The Evolution of Intersectional Oppression

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O'Connor, Cailin; Bright, Liam Kofi; Bruner, Justin
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Intersectionality theory explores the special sorts of disadvantage that arise as the result of occupying multiple disadvantaged demographic categories. One significant methodological problem for the quantitative study of intersectionality is the difficulty of acquiring data sets large enough to produce significant results when one is looking for intersectional effects. For this reason, we argue, simulation methods may be particularly useful to this branch of theorizing because they can generate precise predictions and causal dependencies in a relatively cheap way, and can thus guide future empirical work. We illustrate this point through models which show that intersectional oppression can arise under conditions where social groups are disadvantaged in the emergence of bargaining norms. As we show, intersectional disadvantage can arise even when actors from all social categories are completely identical in terms of preferences and abilities. The conditions necessary to derive such disadvantage are relatively minimal. And when actors behave in ways that reflect stronger intersectional identities, the potential for disadvantage increases.