Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The choice field and who affects its scope

Reacting to that recent college privilege exercise, Megan McArdle gets it right:

To me, privilege is not about how enjoyable your parents were able to make your childhood leisure time. It's not even about material goods....
[...]
Privilege describes how much scope your parents bequeathed you to shape your destiny. This operates in multiple and often subtle ways. It can be reading in the home, or a peer group carefully selected (usually through real estate purchase) to ensure that you "choose" to go to a competitive college instead of dropping out of high school and selling drugs. Or it might be the way having affluent, stable families enables people like me to opt for high-status, low-paying, personally enriching careers, because we know that if something really awful happens, our families can help out.


That's not the only kind of privilege (unearned advantage), of course: there's the unearned advantage of the able-bodied, and being the right skin color or sex, and even being born in the right place.

No comments: