Psychological Mechanisms of Oppression

Ann E. Cudd

in Analyzing Oppression

Published in print May 2006 | ISBN: 9780195187434
Published online May 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199786213 | DOI:

Series: Studies in Feminist Philosophy

  Psychological Mechanisms of Oppression

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This chapter is concerned with explaining how our cognitive psychology equips us for oppression, that is, what psychological mechanisms we have that allow and motivate us to oppress or suffer oppression. It addresses the question: what psychological mechanisms account for our tendency to form social groups and to invidiously discriminate among those groups? It argues that there are two main types of material forces of oppression — violence and economic deprivation — and that oppression cannot survive without being enforced by at least one of these material ways of harming persons. Violence is separated from economic deprivation to illustrate how different cases of oppression involve different kinds of reinforcements and argue that they will require different strategies of resistance.

Keywords: cognitive psychology; social groups; violence; economic deprivation; harm

Chapter.  15153 words. 

Subjects: Social and Political Philosophy

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