Social Privilege 4 January 2008Posted by Todd in Capitalism & Economy, Inequality & Stratification, Social Sciences.
Tags: class, economic status, social privilege, survey method
[Update: My friend Molly corrected the provenance of this meme in the comments section below:]
This is a difficult concept for students to think about, and I alternate between dreading the topic and loving the topic, depending on the class I’m in. Because people are anchored in their own lives, it is difficult for them to see their social power relative to the system as a whole. Here’s a brief “study” being done by some students at Illinois State. I’m highly dubious of the reliability of the data they’ll collect by looking at blog memes (computer literate, bloggers who would answer this particular meme are quite a self-selected and, I would guess, privileged group…so what meaningful conclusions could you draw from these data?). Regardless, it’s an interesting set of questions and issue to think about and follow the standard sociological research about what gives individuals in American society privilege relative to others. From Wry Catcher:
“What Privileges Do You Have?” is being used for a research exercise by students Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, Stacy Ploskonka at Illinois State University. If you choose to participate, please include this statement so that when they run search engines later, they will be able to locate your entry.
Instructions: bold any statements that are true for you.
Father went to college
Father finished college
Mother went to college
Mother finished college
Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor
Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers—yes, by high school; but as Wry pointed out, this is a highly problematic question for a gen-pop survey, let alone a sociologist (i.e., me) who has an overly complex notion of class to begin with.
Had more than 50 books in your childhood home
Had more than 500 books in your childhood home—honestly I don’t know, but I don’t think so
Were read children’s books by a parent
Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18—piano
Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18—I did have flute lessons, but they were through the public school and free, so I’m not counting them
The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively — In general, yes, although American anti-intellectualism runs strong and so there’s a bizarre simultaneous respest and rejection of the academic in the media
Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18
Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs
Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs
Went to a private high school
Went to summer camp—I camped with the BSA, but I don’t think that’s what this question is asking
Had a private tutor before you turned 18
Family vacations involved staying at hotels – never that I can remember, other than maybe when moving across the country
Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18 — plenty of homemade stuff and I wore most pants and shoes until they were hole-y and threadbare
Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them
There was original art in your house when you were a child – My aunt does oil painting and it has meaning within the family, but it was free and worth nothing on the art market, so I’m going to say No.
You and your family lived in a single family house
Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home
You had your own room as a child—well, I was an only child until age 13, so this is a bit misleading as a question unless you get full demographics on me
You had a phone in your room before you turned 18
Participated in an SAT/ACT prep course
Had your own TV in your room in High School
Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16
Went on a cruise with your family
Went on more than one cruise with your family
Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up
You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family – I was until I was a teenager and my dad was unemployed…then I became hyper aware of such things; and we were always living on the cusp (although middle class) and so my mother was always quite vocal about the costs of things and our money in the home.