write a paper about oppression 1


We began the class with a study of the importance of personal and public narrative– what Marshall Ganz calls a “Story of Self,” a “Story of Us,” and a “Story of Now.” Over the last several weeks of this class we have also discussed the concepts of oppression and internalized oppression and noted the negative effects they have had on the promise of American democracy. We have defined oppression as “the systematic, institutionalized and socially condoned mistreatment of a group in society by another group or by people acting as agents for society as a whole.” Make sure you are very familiar with the “Oppression and Democracy” article.


The task of this paper is to tell a story examining the form of oppression that most centrally affects YOUR life. In writing your story, you should identify the specific form of oppression you wish to discuss (what is the group being mistreated) and then write about the concrete and daily ways that it shows itself in your life. That is, from whom, in what ways, and where do you note the effects of oppression? In your paper you should incorporate some theoretical aspect of at least 3 of the assigned readings and videos for this class dealing with oppression. While some theoretical framing of your topic is necessary, we also want you to be as specific and personal to you as possible. If you are unclear about the meaning of the term “oppression,” make sure you have read the article “Oppression and Democracy,” (Yuen) posted on the website for unit #6 readings. If you have not read and understood this article you will not do well on this assignment.

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THEN, conclude your paper with 1-2 paragraphs outlining a SPECIFIC AND DO-ABLE plan of political action YOU could carry out that would lead in the direction of eliminating this oppression from your life and the world.

The strongest stories will address the following questions:

  • How does this oppression affect YOU personally? How is it about YOUR life? (i.e., tell a “Story of Self”)
  • What are some of the larger social SYSTEMS/INSTITUTIONS that create support, and perpetuate this oppression?
  • Why is what you are writing about not just an isolated or peculiar thing that happens on an individual basis? That is, why is it really “oppression” as opposed to just “mistreatment?” How is this a problem that your entire group faces and not just you as an individual. (i.e., tell a “Story of Us”)
  • How does this oppression interact with other forms of oppression in a mutually reinforcing way?
  • In what ways have you “internalized” the behaviors and belief systems imposed by this oppression?
  • How does your personal story relate to the theoretical insights from the assigned readings? Use at least 3 sources from our assigned readings, WITH FOOTNOTES– tell us EXACTLY where you got the material, etc using an academically appropriate method of citation.
  • How well have you learned to apply the lessons from the practicing democracy and civic engagement components of this class to this topic? Have you presented a realistic plan of action that you could implement right now and that you could get others in your community to participate in? (i.e., tell a “Story of Now”)


What we are looking for is strong evidence that you understand the concept of oppression, can distinguish it from simple mistreatment, and can explain the SYSTEMATIC AND INSTITUTIONAL aspects of the oppression. By systematic, we mean that the mistreatment is frequent and pervasive– not just occasional and isolated.

Also, have you been paying attention both to the assigned readings and the class lecture/videos, AND can you apply these concepts to your life and the world around you…


This paper is not a research essay but rather a thought and analysis assignment that requires you to examine YOUR OWN LIFE critically. The readings from this course and class lecture should provide you with ample background for your paper. Remember, though, that we are primarily interested in your own thoughtful analysis of oppression as you experience it in your daily life.


Some of you may feel as though you personally are not targeted by oppression. Thus, you may, if you like, discuss a form of oppression where you personally are not the chief target of the oppression. But if you do this, you must still discuss it from the perspective of how it affects you personally. That is, as an adult, you might discuss how the oppression of children affects your life as an adult. As a European American, you might discuss how racism against people of color affects your life. As a woman, you might write about how the oppression of males affects you as a woman. Etc…


CITATIONS: You need a minimum of 3 references from the assigned class material. All direct quotes must be in “quotation marks.” All references MUST be listed on the template and then also cited in the body of the paper. Any recognized scholarly form of footnoting is acceptable. I prefer Chicago Style footnotes. Here is a link that shows examples of Chicago Style footnotes: http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citation…

Use at least 3 article as references from articles in following link,







Overall we are asking… “Does this paper demonstrate an understanding of the theory of oppression? Does the paper apply this understanding to your own life? Are you thinking deeply or superficially?”

  • 10%- Integration of Assigned Class Material – (need 3 minimum). Integration of the assigned class material- readings and videos. Need 3 minimum). Did you use at least three of the assigned readings or videos from class, integrating the THEORETICAL components as opposed to just citing data or examples. Did you use appropriate sources for your paper? Did you choose the easiest, most simply material or did you incorporate more challenging articles. How sophisticated was your integration of the material?
  • 40%- Personal Application/Story – Are you talking about YOUR real life- experiences, insights, feelings, etc…. Are you telling what Marshal Ganz would call a good “Story of Self?”
  • 40%- Clear understanding of oppression – systematic and institutionalized, group nature of the target and the perpetrator groups. Does your narrative do a good job of connecting your “Story of Self” to what Marshal Ganz would call a “Story of Us?”
  • 10%- Action Component- Do you have a realistic plan of political action that uses resources available to you in your immediate environment to bring about effective institutional change? Is it realistic? Specific? Clear? Do-able? Would it be politically effective? Would it engage others in your community? Would it lead to longer-term institutional change? Do you have a plan to recruit, organize, inspire and mobilize others? Have you told a good “Story of Now?” (Ganz’s term for a narrative that calls people to take action in a manner that is within their actual capacity to take.)

Added extras: doing a good job on the issues below can make up for weaknesses in any of the sections above.

  • Especially strong understanding of and examples of “internalized oppression”
  • Interactive nature of oppression (e.g., looking at the way that the oppression of young people leads to these young people eventually acting out oppression on others, or sexism and male oppression, etc.)
  • Taking on an uncommon or more complex topic
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