Social Class Privilege
Socialclass refers to individual’s cultural setting while privilege is anadvantage or benefits a person or a group of people possesses thatother individuals or group lacks. Social class privilege theory looksat individuals with higher socioeconomic status, in comparison tothose with lower status. For example, the rich in the United Statesenjoy association with success, hard work, and individual merit.There are three components concerning individual social class, whichare the social class of origin, current felt social class, andattributed social class. In any case of a class shift, one`s identitychanges, felt, and attributed. Whenever the society allows theseinequities, class privilege, and oppression arises. Group or classprivilege as outlined by social class privilege theory is based onintersections with other identity areas such as race, sexuality, andgender. According to the theory, those people in the society who havesocial connections and experiences are the one having theopportunities of extending their power. In social class privilege,people do not take a class as the work or level of education onepossess, but the exercise of power and wealth. This keeps classdistinctions on the rich, who continue with the class status quo bypreserving the class invisibility (Patton,Renn, Guido-DiBrito, & Quaye, 2016).According to the social class privilege theory, those privilegedrefuse or ignore the power they possess, which leaves privilegeinvisible. However, ignoring these inequities, as stipulated by thetheory will only lead to class oppression. For example, in manydeveloping countries, when it comes to electing leaders, votersmainly judge candidates in terms of wealth and connections, not thelevel of education the leader possess. As evident in the theory,those with wealth and resources find it easy to open the doors ofpower. Wealth gives the rich a privilege over the other leaders whotry to make voters recognize them due to their work, income, oreducation.
Inthe context of student affairs, the theory is applicable in manyways. The purpose of higher education is to create social classequity, but social class privilege can perpetuate inequity. Childrenfrom the rich families get admission to excellent school regardlessof their grades while those from poor families are turned away evenwith excellent grades (Pattonet al., 2016).Another example is evident in education institutions that fund alladmitted students. They end up creating differences on how thestudents access some of resources or opportunities such as studyingabroad or accessing internships. The theory can also help in studentaffairs to help college students to learn how to talk about theirsocial class and its contribution in oppression and privilege. Anintergroup dialogue among students can help students learn and changetaboos that shape social behavior in schools, and destroy theclass-based stereotypes.
Thesocial class privilege theory is able to show the oppressions thatresult from social class privileges. The theory cautions people onignoring the inequities that are there in societies such asclassifying people in terms of race, geography, and gender for doingso will lead to oppressions. The theory is also able to look at thegeneral social class privileges affecting different groups. However,one of the weaknesses is that it only looks at the disadvantages ofthe privileges, leaving out the advantages. The theory also makespeople look themselves as being unable to escape their role inoppressing others. Finally, the theory fails to look at individualoppressions that occur due to class privileges.
Thetheory can drive practice in different ways. For example, peopleconsidered to hold high socioeconomic status could try changing thenotion by not ignoring or refusing their power. Acknowledging it mayhelp in eliminating the invisibility of the privileges they hold,thus helping in the creation of a balanced society. The oppression ofthe less privileged by those holding higher socioeconomic statusensures that static culture continues through generations. Those withhigh social class privilege take advantage of those without theprivilege, thus leading actions to drive the theory.
Thetheory has many future directions. One, the theory needs to focus onindividual class privileges rather that group generalizations. Italso needs to be inclusive by looking at all scenarios instead offocusing on the rich. Researchers also need to have detailed studieson how social class privilege theory operates in the context ofstudent affairs.
Everythingabout the theory works. The people holding higher socioeconomicstatus in U.S. are the one receiving political favors. The poor areviewed as lazy and the rich as hard working. Students from high-classfamily do not struggle to secure an admission in any institution ofhigher learning. Their parents are easily accepted due to the highdonations they bring to school.
Thetheory is very beneficial to student development. It helps thestudent to see the class differences present in the society,understand their advantages, and disadvantages. In doing so, thetheory help students to acknowledge that those with privilege have anadvantage over the others, thus creating inequities (Pattonet al., 2016).The student also understands that class privilege leads to classoppression and it is, therefore, not beneficial to adapt in school orsociety.
Thetheory will help me professionally in ensuring that I do not classifypeople due to their race, gender, or geography. As an employer, Iwill ensure that all workers receive equal treatment asdiscrimination will create class oppression, leading to unhealthyworking conditions for the less privileged. Further, as aprofessional, I will not ignore any class privilege or use my powerto take advantage of those working under me.
Agood example of a scenario where the theory may apply is whenarranging students in groups in a class containing students from themajority and minority communities. In this case, students from themajority community will dominate the groups due to their socialprivilege.
Whatresonates with me about the theory is the struggle of the lessdisadvantaged. In many societies, the power belongs to the few, whocontinue amassing power. The less advantaged continue to depend onthe wealthy, who continue to ignore their dominance in the society,which promotes oppression.
WheneverI hear the words social identity, the only thing that comes to mymind is the rich and poor. The society is not recognizing people dueto their education or work. Instead, they are looking at how one isrich or poor. I also see how the rich continue to receive praiseswhile they ignore the plight of the poor under the set systems of oursocieties.
Thesociety cannot eliminate the social class privilege. Generations growknowing that the rich are the most respectable people in the society.The poor are not supporting each other instead, they are being usedto promote social class privilege. In addition, no one is ready toacknowledge that those with power have an advantage over those withlow socioeconomic status. The rich consider themselves hardworkingthan the poor, not advantaged.
Socialclass privilege is not necessary. People need to consider each otheras equal no matter the richness, education, or connections. Allowingcontinuation of social class privilege leads to disunity due to classoppression. Societies need to recognize people according to theirmorals not their levels of wealth.
Patton,L. D., Renn, K. A., Guido-DiBrito, F., & Quaye, S. J.(2016). Studentdevelopment in college: Theory, research, and practice.
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