The paper "Power & Privilege - Fashioning a plan" is a personal expression of my own belief system along with a strategy for affecting change. I found the articles by these two writers, as well as those of Johnson, to be interesting; but I find myself somewhat critical of their bias. I agree with Peters that “[s]ystems and institutions that regulate class location are much more powerful than individuals” (Peters 1). There are certainly individuals who work hard and try to improve their lives and situations and are prevented from achieving complete success due to the resistance of the powerful; and social change efforts should be made to address those inequities. I can’t accept, however, that “everyone deserves what you have; you just happen to have it” or her idea that “empowered people enrich themselves by leaving exploitative, dehumanizing work to others”. This position implies too much intentionality to what often is random placement within the socio-economic spectrum or the result of individual choice. As James and Robinson point out, “there are necessarily differences between people. We all perceive these differences and make judgments about others based on them...” (xv), and this is exactly what Peters does; she makes judgments about those employed in menial jobs from her perspective of upper-middle class privilege. She would never be happy bagging groceries; ergo, no one else can be either. That’s just a little too simplistic. As for Alperovitz, putting his political partisanship aside....
As Schultz notes, "social reformers and activists would be better served by reconsidering how much hope was placed upon working through the courts versus investing more time to win critical victories thorough the political process" (9). The legal system certainly has its place in addressing the suppression of classes of individuals, but the political system is a better tool for social policy. It also has the benefit of being the voice of the people, rather than that of an activist judiciary or single governmental branch.
What I have learned. From this course, I have come to a fresh understanding of power and privilege generally, the impact of the misuse of those concepts on the radically disenfranchised, as well as my own place within the dynamic. I don't believe that the positions taken by authors on either extreme are realistic. An individual's plight is not solely the result of his or her own choices, but neither is it necessarily the intentional infliction of harm by a bad system. Certainly, many individuals must shoulder the burden of their own choices and it is far too easy to blame the system for their condition. On the other hand, there really are those people who are neither powerful nor privileged as a result of systemic oppression or neglect. As I look at my own standing in society and the privileges I enjoy, I am aware of those who have more and those who have less. I think that everyone is both privileged and disenfranchised on some level. The distinction for me lies within the individual circumstances under consideration. The middle-class college student has more inherited privilege than the impoverished gang member, naturally. I am