Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Privileged Information

The sociological categorization of people as privileged is something I have struggled to understand this year. In trying to establish dialogues at Skidmore I failed to see its relevance in how people interacted on a one-to-one level.

I still have many disagreements, but I understand more of it now. I understand that it is a way of framing the current or past state of our society in a way that individuals can understand. It lays out what advantages an individual is likely to get based on features of their existence that they largely do not have control over. It shows how a valedictorian can not know what a Mole is and how my modest high school GPA from a mostly white middle class high school gave me many advantages.

But I go back to the struggle of the description of privilege. It still doesn't bring about change. To me, in trying to frame it as a catalyst for change (the plan if you will), it rather perpetuates the problem it purports to solve. Privilege is the inherency, the current state of affairs. It is a statistically relevant relationship that measures the potency of different facets on our society to affect us.

It doesn't and never will provide us with the answers we need to make change happen. In looking at OWS we have pinpointed one of the most visible aspects of privilege. People who never have to worry about money. As I have laid out before, these people have become successful through a combination of good organization, favorable government policies, and their own ingenuity. There is always the “human element” to borrow the Dow's slogan. Very importantly though, no human succeeds alone.

Sociology has pinpointed the negative effects of the privileges we create in our world. Political Science looks at what policies exacerbate or hide those privileges. Our job as people in the real world is to take that knowledge and put it to use.