Beyond Token Change

Breaking the Cycle of Oppression in Institutions

By Anne Bishop  

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Beyond Token Change examines the patterns of oppression found in organizations and institutions. Anne Bishop uses a case study as a starting point to consider the nature of institutions beyond the sum of their parts. Bishop explains how institutions can go beyond token change to transform the institutional structure at a deeper level. She looks at the implications for the tactics we employ to achieve equity in our institutions. In particular, she proposes a method of focusing attention on the institution and its dynamics that goes beyond putting individuals within the institution “on trial” for discrimination. Beyond Token Change is the sequel to Becoming an Ally: Breaking the Cycle of Oppression in People, Bishop’s classic exploration of the dynamics of sexism, racism, heterosexism, agism, ableism and other forms of oppression, including how indivduals learn and reproduce these patterns and the steps required to change them.

“Bishop offers a clear analysis of the real situation of institutional oppression, to which many people can relate. She addresses the need for people to look beyond the oppression of individuals so we can take action to address the larger factors that are so often missed or ignored. Readers of this book will appreciate her contributions and efforts to positively change our societies.”

— Michael Anthony Hart, University of Manitoba, Faculty of Social Work

“Bishop’s follow up to Becoming an Ally is a critical, yet thoughtful reflection on what can happen to the people within large institutions, both those who experience exclusion and their allies. If you are wondering what drives institutional oppression, and what often paralyzes the best efforts of the change agents within, Beyond Token Change proffers a compelling perspective on what lies under the institutional hood.”

— Maureen E. Shebib, LLB, LLM, Equity and Sexual Harassment Advisor, St. Francis Xavier University


  • The Student’s Story
  • Lilian’s Story
  • Yuen’s Story
  • The Structural View
  • The Quantum Universe, Chaos and Predictable Patterns
  • The Road to Equity at North American Universities—Naming Patterns
  • Changing the Patterns
  • Hope
  • Appendix
  • References
  • Index


  • Anne Bishop

    Anne Bishop has been an activist for four decades in organizations dedicated to local, international, environmental, food, fibre and LGBT justice. She is the co author of five books and author of two: Becoming an Ally: Breaking the Cycle of Oppression in People and Beyond Token Change: Breaking the Cycle of Oppression in Institutions.

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