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Lecture 19

47-204 Lecture 19: Lecture 19

3 Pages

Social Work
Course Code
Kelly Ann Spezowka

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Lecture 19 204 November 23, 2017 Privilege - Structural social work contends that oppression is the basis of all social problems - Most structural social work carried out with or on behalf of oppressed groups - So, we have an understanding of how structural social workers think about oppression - And if we truly want to understand oppression, we must also understand privilege - Privilege is not something we take; it is given to us by society if we possess the characteristics that society values, such as being male, white, heterosexual, affluent, and non-disabled - Two major reasons why we have ignored the issue of privilege: 1. it implicates those with power 2. it is far easier to explore the problems faced by the oppressed group than it is to explore our own roles in perpetuating inequality - If we focus only on oppression, the structured invisibility of privilege is reinforced - What determines oppression is: o when a person is blocked from opportunities to self-development o is excluded from full participation in society o is assigned a second-class citizenship, not because of a lack of individual talent or merit but because of his or her membership in a particular group or category of people - Similarly, what determines privilege is not any particular advantages a person might have but whether these advantages were earned or given/ascribed by society on the basis of his or her membership in a particular social group - There are two kinds of advantages: earned and unearned - Those that are unearned are considered to be privileges - Failure to recognize the differences between earned and unearned advantages allows privileged groups to equate all privilege with earned advantages - Privilege is unearned advantages of special group membership - Privileges make people more powerful and profitable because they have more opportunities, advantages, access, and status attached to them that is why white, able-bodied, heterosexual, married males continue to own most of the wealth in Anglo-American societies, occupy the most prestigious positions, and control the media - Privilege is not an individual phenomenon because privilege, by definition, has nothing to do with individuals, only with social categories we are in - It is the nature of society and social systems that must change - Oppression occurs because it benefits and protects the dominant group - Privilege occurs for the same reason - Oppression and Privilege have a symbiotic relationship - The invisible nature of privilege is that privileged persons believe that having more in an inalienable right that accompanies hard work, vigilance, the courage to take risks, and superior intelligence and capabilities; that oppressed persons do not have more is proof that privilege is earned and not given - Supporting these beliefs about privilege are the same myths that support oppression plus two more; the myth that things have always been this way they are and will not change, and, myth of no effect which is based on the belief that nothing we can do can change the system because it is just too big and powerful - These myths are part of a larger ideology that rationalizes privilege and oppression as necessary for the preservation of society
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