HDF 110 Lecture 1: HDF 110 Week 1 Frameworks Notes (1)
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HDF 110 Week 1
Frameworks for Examining Oppression
In this class we will examine two ways of organizing and
understanding the idea of oppression, and then we will
compare the frameworks.
1. Suzanne Pharr’s framework
2. Lynn Weber’s framework
3. Comparison of the two frameworks
1. PHARR’S FRAMEWORK
In her article, Suzanne Pharr discusses the ways in which she believes the dominant group maintains power. This
is considered her “framework” for thinking about oppression. It includes the following definitions and ideas:
A. The “Defined Norm”: standard of rightness and often righteousness wherein all others are judged in relation
● Who is the “defined” norm in our society? In our society, the defined norm is the Caucasian (white) able-
bodied male, who is heterosexual, middle – to – upper – class, and Christian.
● How do we know this?
● Who are the rest?
B. The “Other” and Internalized Oppression
● The everyday life, achievements, etc. of the “other” are kept unknown through “invisibility”—being left
out or misrepresented by education systems, media, etc. Can you think of examples?
● Representation of the “Other”: The “other” is often represented through negative stereotypes that do
not accurately reflect the group.
● This stereotyping leads to “blaming the victim” for their oppression. (Can you think of examples?). This
often leads to low self-esteem and self-blame for those in the oppressed group ( known as Internalized
C. “Lack of Prior Claim”: If a group (i.e., women, people of different races, etc.) was not present when the
original document (i.e., constitution) was created, then they do not benefit from these documents and need
to “fight” for their rights.—Such groups are not the “defined norm” but seen as “the other”.
● For simply asking for one’s due, one was vilified and abused. This is an effective technique, making those
who are struggling for their rights the ones who are in the wrong.
D. Myth of Scarcity: Suggests there is only so much to go around and blames poor for using up too much of
their share (i.e., demanding higher wages, etc.)
● People are pitted against each other along race and class lines (Blame Blacks, Hispanics, other
immigrants, etc. for taking the jobs, ruining neighborhoods, etc.)
● Reality is the top 10% using most of resources and exploiting others in the process
E. Internalized Oppression: When the oppressed group begins to believe they are to blame for their situation
and negative views about their groups are true.
F. Assimilation: blocking the oppressed groups attempts to gain equality
● Creates pressure for the “minority” group to act like the “defined norm”
● Requires oppressed group members to give up their own culture, history, etc.
Two frameworks for understanding oppression
Explanation of Pharr’s
framework (types of power)
Additional notes about
General ideas about processes
that obscure (hide) oppression
Three domains oppression is
Weber’s perspective on
Comparison of Pharr’s and Weber’s
Brief outline of this handout: