Economic Forces 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

  Economic Forces of Oppression

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This chapter discusses three main forces of economic oppression: oppressive economic systems (capitalism and socialism), direct forces of economic oppression, and indirect forces of economic oppression. It is argued that while capitalism and socialism are not intrinsically oppressive, both systems lend themselves to oppression in characteristic ways, and therefore each sort of system must take certain steps to guard against their respective characteristic oppressions. Direct forces of economic oppression are restrictions on opportunities that are applied from the outside on the oppressed, including enslavement, segregation, employment discrimination, group-based harassment, opportunity inequality, neocolonialism, and governmental corruption. Direct forces may not always be clearly visible, either because they happen far from the reach of legal authorities or from the view of consumers, or because they are diffused in a large society, and only apparent from a statistical analysis and comparison among social groups. In indirect forces, or oppression by choice, the oppressed are co-opted into making individual choices that add to their own oppression. When this force is at work the oppressed are faced with options that rationally induce them to choose against the collective good of their social group, and in the long run, against their own good as well. But choosing otherwise requires choosing against their own immediate interests, and changing their beliefs or preferences in ways that they may resent.

Keywords: economic oppression; capitalism; socialism; social groups; direct forces; indirect forces

Chapter.  20546 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social and Political Philosophy

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