, Volume 31, Issue 1-2, pp 117-128

Identity and Oppression: Differential Responses to an In-Between Status

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Oppression operates at various levels, with varying degrees of negativity, and groups respond in markedly different ways. In this paper, the in-between status of the colored South African group is used to illustrate issues of identity and oppression under the Apartheid system—and differing ways in which oppression was experienced and used. The colored group had many social advantages over Blacks, but were also used to oppress that group. Habituation, accommodation, and relative advantage were identified as dynamics within the broader context of power and privilege that contributed to cultural and psychological marginality and status ambivalence of the coloreds. These processes must be understood within the historical, social, and political context of the community. What is evident from the data is that groups and individuals can take up various positions along a continuum of oppressor—oppressed, depending upon the contexts, time, and social and legal relationships involved in their interactions.