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What does it mean to be a member of an oppressed or subordinate group?

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Emily S. | Humanities TutorHumanities Tutor
Oppressed and subordinate are not interchangable. Oppressed generally denotes a lack of authority; whether it relates to ruling power or financial power, or even social or socio-economic status. It generally also suggests a marked lack of upward mobility.
Subordinate groups can share similar aspects to oppressed groups; however, subordinate often suggests that there is a role-play involved. For example: in a retail environment a sales associate is the subordinate of a manager. There is not necessarily an associated oppression related to the person's suborinate position.
Subordinate suggests a placement within a hierarchy; whereas oppression denotes a position that is not alterable by merit, but is instead forced upon a group with little ability to alter situation.