Young’s Five Faces of Oppression, Defined

The front side of a five dollar bill (US).
Image source: CC0 Public Domain

In her article “The Five Faces of Oppression,” Iris Young categorizes five distinct methods employed by societies or dominant groups within societies to oppress individuals and weaker groups, methods that are often misidentified by members of the society as “injustices” rather than forms of oppression.

The following definitions were developed by the students based on Young’s discussion of each. These definitions may be updated or modified as the semester progresses.

EXPLOITATION: When the dominant group takes credit and makes profit off of a weaker group.

MARGINALIZATION: When a group with power treats those without power (person, group, or concept) as insignificant or peripheral.

POWERLESSNESS: A negative state of mind that prevents an individual or group from reaching their full potential by restricting their free will and subjecting them to constant judgement and ridicule by those who are deemed powerful.

CULTURAL IMPERIALISM: When an individual or group is made invisible and other at the same time by a culture that is deemed as universal.

VIOLENCE: The systematic practices of a society that engender physical acts of brutal violence by members of that society.

About Jason S. Todd

Jason S. Todd studied writing with Frederick and Steven Barthelme and Mary Robison at the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi. His fiction has appeared in journals such as Southern California Review, Chicago Quarterly Review, Fiction Weekly, and 971 Magazine. Since 2007, he has been a member of Department of English at Xavier, where he teaches American Literature, Freshman Composition, Modern English Grammars, and The Graphic Novel and Social Justice. In 2015, he became the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Faculty Development's first Associate Director for Programming, as which he assists in providing high-quality, relevant, evidence-based programming in support of CAT+FD's mission to serve faculty across all career stages and areas of professional responsibility.
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