Social Groups and Activism

Five faces of oppression by Iris Young is a well-written, multi-perspective article about the history and modern-day effects of oppression in the United States. Young begins to state the definition of oppression and who are the receiving groups of these issues. She makes it a point in her article to inform her readers of how to identify and label oppression, instead of using euphemisms to cover the true definition. Young introduces the concept of social groups, which provides the readers with an initial understanding of what she will later describe in her writing. She then breaks down the elements of oppression into five groups: violence, exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, and cultural imperialism.

Iris Young was a social and political activist during the late 1900s. Young’s works tend to have more of a liberal stance on social and political issues. “Five Faces of Oppression” was published in 1990 in Justice and the Politics of Difference, which is a book written by Young that analyzes and critiques social justice in modern society. These factors about Young change the way that I view the article because I now know that she is an activist and very passionate about social and political equality. After re-reading “Five Faces of Oppression”, I noticed how strong her opinions are about oppression. From the very first paragraph, she made sure that the definition of oppression was clearly explained so that any misunderstandings be eliminated from the beginning of the article.

Because I politically align myself with more liberal views, I found myself agreeing with the majority of Young’s article. I am a black woman in America, which according to her article, I am oppressed. When reading about Young’s theories about groups, I began to compare her examples to events that have occurred in my own life. When I first started grade school, my peers and I subconsciously grouped ourselves based on appearances. I grew up in a small city in Georgia, where racism was more common than other cities. I noticed that these social groups that Young explained were magnified in the city that I was from because there were certain groups who believed that they were better than others. This, as Young states, is the beginning of marginalization – one of the five faces. At a young age, these groups have shaped the way that I view oppression in society, which actually align with the opinions of Young as well.

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