Having been communicated the subject matter to be dealt with in the course of work, I immediately plunged into thorough speculation on the utility of this kind of social research. This speculation eventually brought me to direct inference of the curiosity and meaningfulness thereof. Thus, let me firstly figure it out.
Throughout its entire history, society has always had this expressed tendency to get more and more divided into certain groups and subdivisions as to race, sex, color, origin, religion and so on. Thus, nowadays a majority of people are prone to assess themselves and determine their position in society having regard to their relation to this or that ethnic or religious group. What is more stunning, every other individual believes to be entirely subjective in his own speculations and approaches to solving this or that problematic relationships (Geller, 2011).
However, when it comes to some opposite social group representative, the “subjectively thinking” person comes to prejudice and judgment concealed under the terms of “objectivity” and “stereotypes”. In my personal consideration, such rigid subdivision acted as a straightening factor of society’s getting so tightly seized with a set of stereotypes giving way to prejudicing the assessment of any other individual. From my own point of view the objective of social research involving interviewing is to figure out the extent of prejudice and stereotyped manner of personal attitude with a view to elaborating ways and methods to blur those rigid lines between the social groups.
The further it evolved, the more emphatically those subdivisional items chose to express themselves coming to undertaking some manner of radical and outrageous behavior interwoven with certain extent of moral or even physical violence delivered in relation to groups, not sharing or simply recognizing the values of theirs. That is how we come to straightforward acknowledgement that living in the modern society is imminently concerned with the concept of oppression, manifested in a wide variety of ways. As a matter of fact, being so widely used nowadays this term has definitely lost the precision of its meaning. The concept of oppression is now tagged to a myriad of behavioral patterns, which sometimes equals to absurd stance.
That is why my target within this research is the concept of oppression triggered by some kind of social inequality. In order to study it with more detail, the concept of oppressions should be studied more thoroughly.
Patricia Hill Collins has starkly highlighted the concept of oppression and its genuine nature in the article “Race, class and gender as categories of analysis and connection”. The author particularly dwells upon the essence and origin of the concept of oppression. The major point conceived by the article is the fact that the oppressed tend to uphold oppression, which largely contributes to their benefit (Collins, 2008). I found this piece of writing extremely cognitive and very specific, so I chose it to serve as backup material to my research.
The research itself technically comprised of two interviews provided between persons expressly representative of two different social groups.
1. The first person was Monica Pilfer, a middle-aged African-American woman, who had sturdy convictions as to her color and gender.
2. The second person was a young white-skinned feminist, who claimed being strictly oppressed on the grounds of gender inequality.
As a matter of fact, both of the interviewed proved to assess their position in society making allowance for their distinctions as to color and sex, setting aside their position as an individual. That is what brought me to inference that nowadays a majority of people tend to determine their social and life position by the extent of oppression paid in relation to their particular distinctions. This is what definitely Patricia Hill Collins dwells upon in her article: people “suffering” from violence and oppression fail to notice that subconsciously by their action and thoughts they prove to uphold someone’s subordination.
The second interviewed person, who was a white-colored feminist, addressed her gender belonging as an oppressive factor in her career beginnings and professional activities. However, the woman omits to notice how much the color of her skin proves to privilege her position as compared to the “colored” woman. Whereas the African-American woman claims upon the “poor” white women to be a “symbol of white color”. Here we can see that it does not actually represent any difficulty to measure one’s victimization by relating oneself to one of those distinctive groups. However, each of those groups tend to define the kind of their oppression as the toughest one, considering the other groups’ sufferings of lesser importance (Fellin, Tripodi & Meyer, 1969).
Thus, figuring out how the concept of gender, color, sex, origin, religion and other distinction may affect one’s social position or self-assessment, I would appeal to oppression. I deem it prudent to proceed with the speculation on the origin of this phenomenon.
One of the contributive factors of oppression is people’s psychological tendency to conceptualize terms, notions and even people stemming from the opposites of all those items. For instance, we measure the whiteness of some object by its feature of being opposite to black. That is how people got accustomed to such drastic division of issues.
Men are opposed to women, thoughts are opposed to feelings and facts are opposed to opinions. Those things are not seen as different and interconnected ways of approaching to one situation. Feelings are considered as something unacceptable in academic research, where exclusively thoughts are to take place. The outcome is that people are prone to conceptualize items in categories, not supposing any deviation beyond the frameworks thereof.
However, this is not actually where oppression stems from. Besides the habitual tendency to divide items upon categories, there is also a congenital inclination to render assessment to all those items, thereby making one side of that “pair” prevailing upon another (white is better than black, thoughts are more credible than feelings etc.). Later on, those assessing tags get so indefeasibly stuck to the items, that we do not even bother ourselves to ponder on the essence of those things or consider their utility or inutility in this or that particular situation (Merx, 2010).
As far as the phenomenon of oppression is concerned, the attitude towards it proves to be also assessing and evaluating. Shifting this line of thought to the concept of oppression, we come to the conclusion that oppression can be evaluated or even “quantified” and this is what people actually do by claiming that this distinctive group is more oppressed than that one (Acker, 2006). However, this manner of thinking applied to oppression, makes us deem this issue not as a phenomenon but as some quantifiable material. In my personal persuasion that is not at least reasonable. Let me explain why.
Considering one type of oppression to be harsher proves exclusively subjective. Such consideration may be affected by a set of external factors. Race or color or any other stratifies may be particularly stressed matters in some particular context (e.g. racism in South America) whilst in some other place or time this distinctive matter proves overridden by some other issue (e.g. class oppression in Haiti) (Acker, 2006). Therefore, subject to paramount consideration of objectivity, oppression should be regarded as a phenomenon, not exposed to any measurement or evaluation.
Considering the effect of those stratifiers upon the lives of the interviewees, I would firstly address the white-skinned feminist. Confrontation upon the gender oppression has enthralled the woman so much, that it has definitely turned into the purpose of her life. All of her thoughts, principles and views are somehow interwoven with the subject of gender inequality. As far as my personal impression of her is concerned, this is where she found herself and her destination.
As for the second interviewee, she was not that obsessed with the idea of inequality having rather a steep attitude towards this subject matter. This is because the racist matter has not been that urgent an issue as it used to be in the 1970s for instance.
The methodology chosen to serve as the objective of this research was the interview, which I found the most appropriate one in this particular case. However, I suppose there should be a set of requirements upheld for an interviewer to make interviews really informative and successful. First of all, I think that the form of holding this talk should by maximally objective as well as the attitude of the interviewer himself. It means that there should be no sign of pressure exerted in relation to the interviewee.
Interviewing envisages revelation of a person’s individuality. Sometimes it happens that a person reveals some hidden peculiarities of his own or finds out how he really feels about this or that issue (Hopkins, 2005). This objective was the prevailing one in the course of the research.
The two interviewed were supposed to find out the essence of oppression and figure out their own perception of it. What is more important, they were assumed to realize the inutility of that constant fighting and reasonability of devoting their lives to something worthier than that.
As far as the drawbacks of interviewing are concerned, they are primarily concerned with impracticality thereof. In particular, the method is exclusively of individualistic character, which limits the quantity of participants to a confined round of people.
Moreover, it takes a deal of time to hold an informative and substantial interview with a person. Therefore, the method of interviewing enables one to conduct a substantial and thorough analysis of a certain number of individuals and those talks may largely contribute to the person’s self-acknowledgement. However, interviewing does not enable one to outline the overall picture of the social attitude towards distinctive groups and oppression.
Drawing a conclusion, I would emphasize the importance of thinking of the matters concerned with inequality and distinctiveness. Those issues have risen far-reaching disputed among people throughout the whole history of humankind. Being a far more educated and sophisticated generation of people, we are definitely assumed to find reasonable ways to solve this matter and reach complete understanding among people. Because as people are spreading into different groups all the time, they often loose the feeling of unity and forget that there is still something that unites us with our neighbors and the whole world. In the end, with the large amount of ecological problems, we, as the whole population of mother Earth, need to work together as one group in order to make sure there will be a place to live on for future generations to come.
Acker, J. (2006). Inequality Regimes: Gender, Class, and Race in Organizations. Gender & Society, 20(4), 441-464. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0891243206289499
Collins, P. (2008). Race, Class and Gender as Categories of Analysis and Connection, 70(5), 42-47. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0891243206289499
Merx, F. (2010). Social Therapy, 60(4), 45-56. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0891243206289499
Fellin, P., Tripodi, T., & Meyer, H. (1969). Exemplars of social research. Itasca, Ill.: F.E. Peacock Publishers.
Geller, M. (2011). Oppression in Modern Society, 55(4), 445-451. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0891243206289499
Hopkins, A. (2005).Group-level stratification processes, 34(6), 331-335. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0891243206289499