Social Oppression Essays

Morton Deutsch

March 2005, updated in June 2017, by Heidi Burgess

Oppression is at the root of many of the most serious, enduring conflicts in the world today. Racial and religious conflicts; conflicts between dictatorial governments and their citizens; the battle between the sexes; conflicts between management and labor; between heterosexuals and homosexuals, between liberals and conservatives,  all stem, in whole or in part, to oppression or perceived oppression. In 2017, conflicts between religion and races seem to be on the significant increase, both in the U.S. and abroad. Many (on both sides) talk about a serious conflict between "the West" (mostly Christian) and Islam. The conflict between Jews (mostly in Israel) and Muslims has a long, extremely intractable, history.  The conflict in Syria is one of oppression based on religion (among other things), and the migration that has caused has spawned oppression of minorities in many other countries as well. In the United States, race was a big factor in the 2016 Presidential election, as working-class whites, long feeling oppressed by the liberal elite, lashed back by electing a President, who, though extremely rich, they still viewed as "one of their own," or at least one who wouldn't oppress whites, as they believed President Obama and other liberals before him had done.

Additional insights into oppression are offered by Beyond Intractability project participants.

This section of the knowledge base explores oppression: what causes it, and what can be done to address it. Most of the essays in this section (including this one) are drawn from a larger essay originally entitled "Oppression and Conflict[1]" Since that essay was too long to stand alone in Beyond Intractability, it is here divided up into six essays, which together make up an "oppression" section of the website.  In addition to this short introduction, the essays in this section currently include:

1. The Nature and Origins of Oppression;

2. The Forms of Oppression;

3. What Keeps Oppression in Place?

4. Awakening the Sense of Injustice;

5. Overcoming Oppression with Power;

6. Overcoming Oppression Through Persuasion

[1] The original paper was delivered as a plenary address at the annual meetings of the International Society of Justice Research in Skovde, Sweden on June 17, 2002.

Use the following to cite this article:
Deutsch, Morton. "Oppression and Conflict: Introduction." Beyond Intractability. Eds. Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess. Conflict Information Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder. Posted: March 2005 <>.

Additional Resources

Oppression in America Essay

2043 Words9 Pages

In our Society, we deal with many form of oppression in our daily lives. Unfortunately, different groups of people are more oppressed than others. Oppression is the unjust treatment of a group of people. I believe, our government is a major culprit as they are responsible for oppressing most of society. This involves many groups, such as single mothers, the working class, African Americans, gays and lesbians. In my paper, my personal views will be addressed incorporating ideas from several readings pertaining to different forms of oppression. A summarization of each article will be provided as well.
The first reading is: Making the American Welfare State More Humane-Past, Present and Future. It is a depiction of how the government…show more content…

In addition, a vast majority of our population requesting services or are in need of services are immigrants. Though it may appear that the government demonstrates concern for the well-being of immigrants and other vulnerable populations, I believe many groups are manipulated by their supposed good intent. According to Jansson, “Vulnerable populations need a welfare state, moreover, because they are more likely to experience poverty exists disproportionately, for example, among single women with children, persons of color, and person with mental or physical challenges. If no governmental safety net programs existed, many members of these groups would not even be able to meet their survival needs, such as food, medical care, income and housing” (Jansson, 2009, p.5). My personal opinion is the government automatically assumes that the individuals in vulnerable populations chose their way of life without making an effort to advance themselves. However, assumptions should not be made as we cannot determine all vulnerable groups to encounter the same ordeal, which led them to their circumstances. For example, one individual may have come from another country and is trying to assimilate to their new environment. However, it is difficult for them as they have

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