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HOME arrow Glossary arrow Dominance relations
Dominance relations
Dominance - the ability to exert control and influence - is the underlying thread common to all social categories. Everybody is shaped by the culture around. We learn about social categories directly and indirectly and store these messages and experiences as presumed shared values and thus stereotypes. Many of these stereotypes are accepted as the norm and all others are defined in relationship to that norm (not only by members of the dominant group). This internalized dominance is an assumption made by those with power that everyone shares their reality; they then operate as if their perspective were universal. Internalized oppression is the way in which individuals from non-dominant groups internalize the positive messages about the dominant group and the negative messages about non-dominant groups; they then operate in accordance with those alleged “natural” feelings as a member of their group.
Dominance relations are dynamic. The fluid nature of social identities may place us as either the target or the agent of oppression depending on the circumstance -- what is being challenged, fought for, or at risk of being won or lost. Intersectional approaches help to analyse these combinations on subjective and structural levels.
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