We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more

E-book purchase
Choose a subscription

Downloaded copy on your device does not expire. Includes 4 years of Bookshelf Online.


Where applicable, tax will be added to the above price prior to payment.

E-book purchasing help


Hope Under Oppression

Katie Stockdale

Publication Date - July 2021

ISBN: 9780197563571

232 pages
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches

In Stock


We have all been told, at one time or another, to "never give up hope." It's a common injunction to children, but as we grow older, sustaining hope becomes more challenging, particularly in a world we come to see as often frightening, dark, and unjust. But what is this thing "hope," and why is hope so valuable that we are so often urged to preserve and protect it?

This book explores the nature and essential role of hope in human life under conditions of oppression. Oppression is often a threat and damage to hope, yet many members of oppressed groups, including prominent activists pursuing a more just world, find hope valuable and even essential to their personal and political lives. Katie Stockdale offers a unique evaluative framework for hope that captures its intrinsic value, the rationality and morality of hope, and ultimately how we can hope well in the non-ideal world we share. She develops an account of the relationship between hope and anger about oppression and argues that when people are angry about oppression, they tend to also harbour hope for repair. When people's hopes for repair are not realized, as is often the case for those who are oppressed, their anger can evolve into bitterness. They feel unresolved anger as a result of losing hope that injustice will be sufficiently acknowledged and addressed.

Fortunately, things do not have to be this way. Even when people may feel that they have lost all hope, faith can help them to be resilient in the face of oppression. They can join with others who share their experiences or commitments for a better world, uniting with them in collective action. By doing so, they can strengthen hope for the future when hope might otherwise be lost.

Ultimately, this work illustrates the crucial value of hope for both individuals and collectives in the pursuit of justice, and in an increasingly uncertain world.


  • Illustrates how philosophical literature can speak to hope's role in real human lives, without the need for a perfect theory of hope
  • Offers a philosophical approach that integrates research from moral psychology, social and political theory, feminist theory, critical race theory, and testimony from lived experiences
  • Benefits readers by creating new conversations between philosophers and scholars in other disciplines
  • Speaks to urgent questions related to readers' personal and political lives

About the Author(s)

Katie Stockdale is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Victoria. Her research is currently on the nature, value, and role of emotions in moral, social, and political life.


"...Stockdale provides an original and welcome contribution to the literature on hope...Throughout the book, Stockdale draws attention to multiply-oppressed groups...Furthermore, by repeatedly citing the works of women of color...Stockdale elevates the voices of authors from groups traditionally marginalized in philosophy. The originality of Stockdale's exploration of the relationship between hope and anger also deserves praise... [I]t adds to the literature on the moral psychology of hope...Second, the investigation of collective hope highlights the importance of collective emotions to political struggles...Third, this book furthers feminist research on the obstacles to overcoming oppression... on the whole, it will be a valuable book to philosophers in these fields. Moreover...this book will engage readers from a wide range of backgrounds." -- Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"Hope under Oppression is a tour de force synthesis of philosophical reflection, political theory, and feminist critique. Katie Stockdale articulates a powerful and unique vision of the roles (both positive and negative) that hope plays our lives as moral agents, community members, activists, and citizens. Her argument that bitterness is sometimes more appropriate than hope--especially under conditions of oppression--is profound and timely. The cross-disciplinary discussion of hope and despair has been very active recently, but this book stands out as a must-read contribution." -- Andrew Chignell, Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor in Religion, Philosophy, and the Center for Human Values, Princeton University and Co-director of The Hope and Optimism Project (hopeoptimism.org)

"Stockdale adds a much-needed dimension to the recently burgeoning philosophical literature on hope: sustained attention to the significance of hope and related emotions - bitterness, anger, trust, faith - for oppressed people and communities. Stockdale writes with both philosophical rigor and casual clarity and her book is important for philosophers working on these subjects, and also accessible to readers from outside philosophy seeking to learn about oppression and moral emotions." -- Adrienne Martin, Akshata Murty '02 and Rishi Sunak Associate Professor of Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and George R. Roberts Fellow, Claremont McKenna College

"Hope is often a balm and an inspiration but sometimes a lure or a trap. It can serve as a lifeline or as a lever for exploitation. What terms of assessment, then, can we bring to our hopes? Stockdale's illuminating book maps the complexities of hope in our personal, social, and political situations as individuals and members of groups. She situates the dynamic role of hope in a larger landscape of potent human emotions, including anger, bitterness, and varieties of faith - spiritual faith, faith in humanity, and moral faith -- that can sustain us. Using real and arresting examples, Stockdale spurs a wide, deep, and inclusive conversation about the value and risks of hope." -- Margaret Urban Walker, Donald J. Schuenke Chair in Philosophy Emerita, Marquette University

Table of Contents

    Introduction: Oppression and the Question of Hope
    Chapter 1: Hope's Place in Our Lives
    Chapter 2: The Value and Risks of Hope
    Chapter 3: Hope and Anger
    Chapter 4: Losing Hope, Becoming Embittered
    Chapter 5: Hope, Faith, and Solidarity
    Conclusion: Hope Looking Forward