Power and Privilege - Sociology Essay Example

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Harvey Mudd College
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The term privilege has been applied in different levels of society, depending on the mode of its application, there are different meanings that emerge. This paper focuses on the topic power and privilege, with respects to the several literatures on the curriculum, and it will give a deep analysis as well as the practical illustration on this model. The term privilege is based on the entitlement granted by the authority. The phrase is used in the anti-sexist, anti-racist and anti-oppression movement. As used by the anti-oppression, privilege involves the series of advantages enjoyed by a section of the majority group. A privileged individual is not prejudiced in any way with regards to racism and sexism.

As per the readings on the class texts that I have read so far, the definition for the term privilege is based in two terms, as the social, economic and political advantages that one enjoys due to their sex; secondly, it can be considered as the societal, one who gets some benefits and rights based on their race.

Peggy McIntosh has extended her research by getting deeper into the basis of the definition. She stated that there are three key aspects of unearned, which include, gender, privilege-race, and sexual orientation. Some people are given privileges because of their gender or race. Also, the concept of privilege is expounded in two different angles, as male privilege and white privilege. The concepts used to explicitly differentiate the two are, male privilege and the white privilege.

The two definitions given in this syllabus (privilege) are different based on their application, because they dont offer similar definitions despite using the same source. The two agree that there should be privileges that individuals need to get that are supported upon, race, gender and sexual orientation.

Male Privilege

It refers to the social, economic and political rights or advantages that men enjoy solely on the basis of their gender. The men consider women to be disadvantaged though, they repudiate that they are over privileged. Some will disagree that they gain advantages due to the fact that women are disadvantaged. Such kind of rejection safeguards male privilege from being properly acknowledged. This adversely influences man's development as human beings as we as society's development, and the possibility that the privilege system would ever be challenged and changed. As it is asserted by McIntosh , "some claim that men must be central in the curriculum because they have done most of what is important or distinctive in life or in civilization. It is perceived that, since man's contribution towards life and civilization, they have to be "central to the curriculum." There is the instance of denial where some belief that it is present, but disagree that male is more imperative to the society. It is believed that there is no guaranteed method whereby it will destroy these privileges can be effective, but the work to enhance the female status, but there will still be a male hegemony.

White Privilege

It refers to the societal privilege that only the white in western countries benefits from, beyond what is usually felt by the non-white individuals who are both under similar political, economic or social circumstance. Whites are no longer imparted to acknowledge the white privilege, this lead to the unearned assets, which are always unknowingly cashed in on daily by Peggy. The whites get taught to think of their lives, just as morally neutral, average, and normative

Privilege can also be seen as the granted social financial, cultural and other advantages that a person or group holding a determinant of functional power holds a fragment of their identity. Those who are privileged seems to be experiencing appropriate or exclusive representation in the media, industry, and government. The two definitions are in conflict because this interrelationship with male ignoring male privileges; the while is no taught to acknowledge it. Peggy McIntosh categorizes some of these privileges in her life and comes up with 46 items, including:

"I can, if I wish, arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time" "I can be fairly sure of having my voice heard in a group in which I am the only member of my race"

On the other hand, George Lipsitz considers racism as the matter of pigment and property, interests and attitudes, something that is beyond and above personal prejudice. He focuses on white supremacy where it looks at the power granted to the whites and their attitudes that they often displayed on the other races.

To conclude, it is clear that privilege and power are parallel to one another. Privilege gives power to the individuals in terms of race or gender. Privilege evolves on the issues on racism and sexism. In both male privilege and white privilege, people tend to get power in the society and to gain supremacy over others, who are considered to be less privileged. .

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