The 4 I's of Oppression: Ideological, Institutional, Interpersonal, and Internal

Oppressions like racism, classism, adultism, and ageism occur at different levels: Ideological, Institutional, Interpersonal, and Internal.

Ideological: A system of beliefs or ideas
Institutional: Using the laws, the legal system, the education system, public policy, media, political power, etc… to maintain ideology
Interpersonal: The idea that one group is better than another and has the right to dominate/control the other
Internalized The oppressor doesn’t have to exert any more pressure, because we now do it to ourselves and each other

Street Knowledge on Teachers Pay Teachers

You can remember this as the 4 I’s of Oppression.

Why does this framework matter? Because each of these levels are interrelated and mutually reinforcing. Any effort to dismantle oppression must address all four of these levels.


Watch or listen to this video on the 4 I’s of Oppression

Captions available

Video by Eliana Pipes in conjunction with Encompass at the Western Justice Center.

Download the Four I’s of Oppression poster

Preview below. Download the printable version from Street Knowledge on Teachers Pay Teachers.
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Download the Four I’s of Oppression handout from GIFT: Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training