Theses Doctoral

The Social Ontology of Systemic Oppression

Martin, Laura Ariadne

What is the nature of agency under oppressive social conditions? Oppressive structures inhibit our agency in ways to which we are often blind, yet social movements demonstrate that as agents we can bring about emancipatory change. My dissertation articulates a social ontology to account for this conflict between structure and agency. I analyze structures in terms of practices built around implicit values, which require agents to occupy valued or denigrated statuses. Agents participate in practices without becoming conscious of their oppressive frameworks, thereby unwittingly perpetuating oppression. Making these frameworks explicit can lead to social change but, as oppressive practices shape agents’ senses of value and status, practices themselves must also change.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Neuhouser, Frederick
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
August 3, 2020