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Power and Privilege Feelings of Exclusion - Essay Example

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Power and Privilege Feelings of Exclusion

Although perhaps controversial, I want to apply these observations to academia itself, and contrast what it would feel like to be a member of the working class (out-group) when in the presence of intellectuals (group). In thinking through this comparison, I can see that the principles of racial power and privilege directly translate to issues beyond race.
Personal. I wonder what it would feel like to be denied acceptance in a group because I was not considered intellectual; and held political or moral views that were considered un-enlightened or not politically correct. In the presence of a group of intellectuals, I might be tempted to express my personal views on a given subject even though I knew that it would be taken as criticism of their sincerely-held views. As Sassower points out, "[t]here is a price for even the pedestrian role-playing of a critic. The critic is an 'outsider' whose views are suspect and whose motives are scrutinized as to find their flaws and discredit them as quickly and thoroughly as possible" (Sassower 475). Much like race relations, there is an insider/outsider dynamic between those who consider themselves intellectuals and those who are members of the working class. The insiders, on both sides, project superiority and imply inferiority in the outsiders.
Herein lies one of the benefits of being a member of a group or preferred class; the ability to be convinced that the group opinion is the right one and any disagreement with that dogma is ignorance. The more intense the group dynamic, the more this concept is justified, particularly when:

...prejudiced judgments are made in a social context that accepts and encourages negative attitudes toward the out- group. In these cases, the group judgment reinforces and helps maintain the individual judgment about the out- group's lack of worth.
(Lawrence 337)
Like any segregationist in the South, an intellectual would be
loathe to consider violating her social group's established prejudice that working class, conservative ideology has no merit. I have never really thought about this on a personal level, but now I can see how a group's ideology can be unconsciously adopted and reflect prejudice without forethought. This phenomenon is articulated so well by Wildman, who describes a dream where she was representing a race expression to a person (group) for a friend (out-group). My brackets apply her racial analogy to this discussion:

"Our shared privilege [group] meant that our conversation mattered in terms of whether my friend [out-group] would ultimately be part of the community. The community was defined by our whiteness [intellectualism], without...either of us articulating that fact or even necessarily being aware of it. (Wildman 882)

Thus, the principles of privilege can be instinctively exercised in non-racial ways. Considering this question as a matter of my day-to-day life, I can see how intimidating it would be for me to interact with ...Show more


The questions of power and privilege, and both their independent as well as combined effect on those out-of-power and non-privileged (the out-group), have been researched in academia for decades. American history is replete with major societal incidents of the abuse of power or privilege by those who have it (the group), and the impact of suffering from such exclusion has been expressed in the personal stories, both published and unpublished, of millions…
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Power and Privilege Feelings of Exclusion essay example
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