Analyzing Oppression presents a new, integrated theory of social oppression, which tackles the fundamental question that no theory of oppression has satisfactorily answered: if there is no natural hierarchy among humans, why are some cases of oppression so persistent? Cudd argues that the explanation lies in the coercive co-opting of the oppressed to join in their own oppression. This answer sets the stage for analysis throughout the book, as it explores the questions of how and why the oppressed join in (...) their oppression. Cudd argues that oppression is an institutionally structured harm perpetrated on social groups by other groups using direct and indirect material, economic, and psychological force. Among the most important and insidious of the indirect forces is an economic force that operates through oppressed persons' own rational choices. This force constitutes the central feature of analysis, and the book argues that this force is especially insidious because it conceals the fact of oppression from the oppressed and from others who would be sympathetic to their plight. The oppressed come to believe that they suffer personal failings and this belief appears to absolve society from responsibility. While on Cudd's view oppression is grounded in material exploitation and physical deprivation, it cannot be long sustained without corresponding psychological forces. Cudd examines the direct and indirect psychological forces that generate and sustain oppression. She discusses strategies that groups have used to resist oppression and argues that all persons have a moral responsibility to resist in some way. In the concluding chapter Cudd proposes a concept of freedom that would be possible for humans in a world that is actively opposing oppression, arguing that freedom for each individual is only possible when we achieve freedom for all others. (shrink)
This article discusses explanatory theories of normative concepts and argues for a set of criteria of adequacy by which such theories may be evaluated. The criteria offered fall into four categories: ontological, theoretical, pragmatic, and moral. After defending the criteria and discussing their relative weighting, this article uses them to prune the set of available explanatory theories of oppression. Functionalist theories, including Hegelian recognition theory and Foucauldian social theory, are rejected, as are psychoanalytic theory and social dominance theory. Finally, the (...) article defends structural rational choice theory as the most promising methodology for explaining oppression. Key Words: oppression explanation rational choice theory. (shrink)
: Postcolonial feminist scholars have described some Western feminist activism as imperialistic, drawing a comparison to the work of Christian missionaries from the West, who aided in the project of colonization and assimilation of non-Western cultures to Western ideas and practices. This comparison challenges feminists who advocate global human rights ideals or objective appraisals of social practices, in effect charging them with neocolonialism. This essay defends work on behalf of universal human rights, while granting that activists should recognize their limitations (...) in local cultural knowledge. (shrink)
I argue that science will be better, by its own criteria, if it pursues multiculturalism, by which I mean an ethnic- and gender-diverse set of scientists. I argue that minority and women scientists will be more likely to recognize false, prejudiced assumptions about race and gender that infect theories. And the kinds of changes that society will undergo in pursuing multiculturalism will help reveal these faulty assumptions to scientists of all races and genders.