Privilege, Power, and Difference / Edition 2by Allan Johnson
Pub. Date: 02/11/2005
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Higher Education
This brief book is a groundbreaking tool for students and non-students alike to examine systems of privilege and difference in our society. Written in an accessible, conversational style, Johnson links theory with engaging examples in ways that enable readers to see the underlying nature and consequences of privilege and their connection to it. This extraordinarily successful book has been used across the country, both inside and outside the classroom, to shed light on issues of power and privilege.
Allan Johnson has worked on issues of social inequality since receiving his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Michigan in 1972. He has more than thirty years of teaching experience and is a frequent speaker on college and university campuses. Johnson has earned a reputation for writing that is exceptionally clear and explanations of complex ideas that are accessible to a broad audience.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Rodney King's QuestionWe're In TroubleChapter 2: Privilege, Oppression and DifferenceDifference Is Not the Problem Mapping Difference: Who Are We?The Social Construction of DifferenceWhat Is Privilege?Two Types of PrivelegePrivilege as ParadoxOppression: The Flip Side of PrivilegeChapter 3: Capitalism, Class, and The Matrix of DominationHow Capitalism Works Capitalism and ClassCapitalism, Difference, and Privilege: Race and GenderThe Matrix of Domination and the Paradox of Being Privileged and Unprivileged at the Same TimeChapter 4: Making Privilege HappenAvoidance, Exclusion, Rejection, and WorseTrouble for Whom?And That’s Not AllWe Can’t Heal Until the Wounding StopsChapter 5: The Trouble with the TroubleChapter 6: What It All Has to Do with UsIndividualism: Or, the Myth that Everything Is Somebody’s FaultIndividuals, Systems, and Paths of Least ResistanceWhat It Means to Be Involved in Privilege and OppressionChapter 7: How Systems of Privilege WorkDominance Identified with PrivilegePrivilege at the CenterThe Isms The Isms and UsChapter 8: Getting Off the Hook: Denial and ResistanceDeny and MinimizeBlame the Victim Call It Something ElseIt’s Better This WayIt Doesn’t Count If You Don’t Mean ItI’m One of the Good Ones Sick and Tired Getting Off the Hook by Getting OnChapter 9: What Can We Do?Myth#1: “It’s Always Been This Way, and It Always Will Be” Myth #2: Gandhi’s Paradox and The Myth of No EffectStubborn Ounces: What Can We Do?
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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With the electronic age, blogging, texting, tweeting, etc., we tend to forget common courtesy and decency and allow racism, bias, prejudice to thrive through anonymity. Johnson's book doesn't let us off the hook. I used this book as part of Diversity training for professionals and participants found the material to be easy to read, thought-provoking and relevent.
I do not believe that anyone would be reading this book unless they had to, most obviously for a college course on multicultualism and such. I don't mind reading about other cultures. I find it important to an overall understanding of the world, but I take issues with this book. Oh, where to begin. First of all, he begins the book by trying to answer Rodney King's question "Why can't we all just get along?" assuming that everyone agrees that Mr. King makes for a fine martyr no matter how much of a criminal he actually is. It's just downhill from there. See, that's one of the big problems with this book, the author assumes you agree with every one of his points, making no attempt to persuade you to believe that he is correct. Furthermore, he provides no proof or facts for any of the points that he makes. The only way that the book was even palatable was that the author states quite clearly at the beginning that he is himself a white male of privelege. Because of this, the author demands that every person of privelege should feel extremely guilty and he makes this point so didactically that I could barely contain myself. Sure I feel priveleged as a white male but the way in which the author goes on and on about the shame we should feel is difficult to swallow. He has a whole chapter on the evils of capitalism, simply assuming that every one of his readers agrees that the American system of government and business is wrong, thus providing no reasoning to the contrary. No where does he ever consider opposing viewpoints, a gigantic problem with anyone writing any work of this kind. And even the points at which I agree with him on, the problems that exist in our society, he makes very little attempt to suggest how to solve these problems. He gives nothing but abstract solutions that have little to no real-world relevance. I hope not every one of his readers is persuaded by his position of authority. It's as if he's saying "I wrote a book and got it published, therefore, I'm right and you have to agree with me." Search out opposing viewpoints.
Alan Johnson appropriately and insightfully points out the many ways in which traditionally privileged groups -- whites, males, the upper and middle classes -- derive benefits at the expense of the disadvantaged. He also does a good job of showing that privileged groups seldom think of themselves as having any particular advantate, and how this thinking leads to tension-filled social relationships. The one flaw with this book is that it ignores the fact that some forms of privilege are actually beneficial to society as a whole. There is certainly what one can call 'earned privilege' -- special benefits that result from hard work, persistence, and ingenuity. And it is not just white males who have achieved earned privilege. Johnson gives the impression that traditionally underprivileged groups experience a uniform deprivation. Not true, as any reader of a magazine like 'Black Enterprise' will clearly see. True, these success stories may be the exception, but who would argue that the privileges acquired by these folks are not deserved? So this is an okay book in terms of its general critique of privilege, but it tends to lean too far in the direction of seeing all privilege as problematic. One almost senses that the author would like to see a society where nobody enjoys more power, wealth, or status than anyone else. One other irksome observation. Nowhere in the book (or on the cover) does Johnson tell us how the royalties will be donated to an underprivileged group. If he is indeed profiting from this book, then it seems a bit disingenous that he should be so shrill about condeming privilege in such a wide-sweeping manner.