Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


This thesis explores the question: Are there common identifiable life experiences among people who actively organize against oppression? This qualitative study included demographic as well as open and closed survey questions. The research explored seventy-one participants' interpretations of how they came to take action. The study explores how these participants first developed political consciousness, political efficacy, and the motivation to organize against oppression. Those identifiable life experiences that precede people taking action to organize against oppression are reviewed. This researcher found that there are common life experiences among people who are empowered, have political efficacy, and are taking action to organize against oppression. Participants reported that education, family, witnessing oppression, and experiencing oppression were common identifiable life experiences that influenced individuals to develop a political consciousness that oppression existed. Participants also reported that developing a historical perspective, political victories against oppression, participating in demonstrations, experiences with important individuals and role models, and family and religious experiences influenced them to believe they could fight against oppression. Participants reported believing that they could fight oppression in a group context, but not alone. Participants reported that educational, family, experiences with role models or important people, experiencing oppression, and witnessing oppression influenced them to take action against oppression.


v, 145 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2007. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 126-132).