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James Scott's resistance/hegemony paradigm reconsidered

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This essay represents a reexamination of the reigning resistance/hegemony paradigm since it was elaborated by James C. Scott in the 1980s. It argues that the main problem haunting the paradigm is its overemphasis on the actor's experience of personal domination. Being deliberately bypassed is the experience of impersonal domination – shaped by values, traditions or the symbolic universe – when actors are to face and deal with local oppression. Situating the problem in a wider theoretical context, the author suggests that when actors have to face and deal with an oppressive situation in order that they may resist it or comply with it, they must experience both personal and impersonal domination pertinent to the social structure.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Applied Social Sciences, City University of Hong Kong, 83 Tat Chee Avenue, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong., Email:

Publication date: January 1, 2011


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