The work was strongly influenced by Frantz Fanon and Karl Marx. One of Freire's dictums is that "there neither is, nor has ever been, an educational practice in zero space-time—neutral in the sense of being committed only to preponderantly abstract, intangible ideas."
Donaldo Macedo, a former colleague of Freire and University of Massachusetts Boston professor, calls Pedagogy of the Oppressed a revolutionary text, and people in totalitarian states risk punishment reading it. During the South African anti-apartheid struggle, ad-hoc copies of Pedagogy of the Oppressed were distributed underground as part of the "ideological weaponry" of various revolutionary groups like the Black Consciousness Movement. In the 1970s and 1980s the book was banned and kept clandestine.
Friere's work was one inspiration for Augusto Boal's Theatre of the Oppressed.