Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work


Bill Lee




This thesis seeks to address two questions: How does it happen that a community can evolve from a safe, vibrant neighbourhood filled with optimistic people to one that is crime-ridden and full of withdrawn individuals? And how are people born with the same hopes and dreams as the majority of American society so shaped by their experience that the majority now calls them stupid, lazy and violent? It asserts that the answers to these questions can be found in the experience of denied self and environmental efficacy felt by many persons marginalised in today's society that is oppression. Also important is the accompanying experience of internalised oppression which is the psychological state in which a person believes that him/herself and his/her social group are inferior to the dominant social group, as well as the self destructive behaviours that often contribute to a person's continued oppression and to the dominant group's view of that person as inferior (Mullaly, 2002). This thesis will suggest that the mechanism that frames the processes of oppression and of internalised oppression is the feelings of frustration that result each time a person is marginalised and discriminated against in attaining hislher goals in life. It will also suggest that the behaviours that result from this frustration can be understood using Maier's (1949) theory of frustration-instigated behaviour. Understanding oppression, internalised oppression and frustration in this way, recommendations are made for long-term social policies that address the roots of oppression rather than the destructive behaviours and in which marginalised people have control and choice.

McMaster University Library

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