Social Justice: Power, Privilege, & Oppression Essay

Pages: 4 (1311 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Doctorate  ·  Topic: Sociology - Human Services  ·  Written: June 18, 2019


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Spencer’s (2008) editorial also reminds social workers of the power inherent in self-reflection. Self-reflection requires courage. Spencer (2008) talks about how being male and able-bodied has impacted his identity and attitudes towards gender and sexual orientation. So deep rooted is the programming related to gender and heteronormativity that it takes critical consciousness to realize how we can unwittingly perpetuate discrimination via tacit acceptance of overt or subtle forms of discrimination. One anecdote that resonates especially is that of Spencer’s (2008) encounter with other male parents at his son’s football game. Samuels & Ross-Sheriff (2008) likewise show how women can “enslave” or “oppress” other women by refusing to acknowledge how race or other factors lead to discrimination. Members of similarly oppressed groups can sometimes participate in the perpetuation of oppression unconsciously. As difficult as it may be to go against the grain, to oppose even those in our own circle of friends and family, and to risk being accused of being hyper-reactive or politically correct, social workers are professionally and personally responsible for uprooting these forms of oppression in our daily lives.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Reflecting on Social Justice

Essay on Social Justice: Power, Privilege, & Oppression Assignment

In fact, it is not just our professional work that defines us as social workers. Spencer (2008) shows that our commitment to social justice never ends. Even when we are with our friends and family, or when we are acting outside of our capacity as social workers, we still remain responsible for identifying oppression and fighting against it however we can. Ours is lifelong work and requires full dedication. As Spencer (2008) puts it, social workers become allies to our clients only when we can fully identify with and understand how oppression manifests in different ways for different people. It is impossible to help our clients and the communities we serve without first becoming truthful about who we are, how we have taken advantage of power or privilege, and how we have succumbed to the persistent pressures of pervasive social norms.

Social workers learn about the values of equity and social justice but often with too much detachment. Our advanced degrees, our professional development programs, and our professional experience in the field all provide a false sense of mastery that precludes honest self-awareness. Spencer (2008) reminds us that we need to remain vigilant. Our status is relational to others, and the more we work with different people and populations, the more we will encounter forms of oppression and discrimination we might not have known existed. We need to recognize that culture creates constructs that seem immutable, but which can be slowly dismantled through the process of social work. Social workers cannot change public policy and receive the outcomes we desire unless we first become aware of the root causes of problems. It is most certainly our responsibility to become critically self-aware, always cognizant of the ways our perspectives are shaped by race, class, gender, and access to power. Self-reflection is often challenging and sometimes even humiliating, but it always does boost our empathy and competency as social workers.

  1. Ratts, M.J., Singh, A.A., Massar-McMillan, S., et al. (2016). Multilcultural and social justice counseling competencies. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development 44(1): 28-48.
  2. Sakamoto, I. & Pitner, R.O. (2005). Use of critical consciousness in anti-oppressive social work practice. The British Journal of Social Work 35(4): 435-452.
  3. Samuels, G.M. & Ross-Sheriff, F. (2008). Identity, oppression, and power. Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Social Justice: Power, Privilege, & Oppression" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Social Justice: Power, Privilege, & Oppression.  (2019, June 18).  Retrieved March 28, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Social Justice: Power, Privilege, & Oppression."  18 June 2019.  Web.  28 March 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Social Justice: Power, Privilege, & Oppression."  June 18, 2019.  Accessed March 28, 2020.