Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Exploitation refers to using a resource, situation, or person for a purpose. In a technical, neutral sense, this might mean no more than making use of a resource for benefit, for example, when the existence of underground sources of energy is exploited by drilling and extraction. In social theory, however, the term implies a normatively negative evaluation of the use being made, although identifying the norm being violated is not straightforward. For example, some have argued that such exploitation is a violation of justice, but this may be identified with a rights violation, a lack of reciprocity, or a failure of equality. Others, again, have concentrated on an infringement of liberty, perhaps construed as the consequence of coercion, or the lack of opportunity for self-development, or autonomy. The relationship between the neutral and the condemnatory applications of exploitation is complicated by two considerations. First, in the history of social thought, ...