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Belonging to a Social Group: Benefits and Privilege Essay


In many cases, belonging to a specific social group can turn into a source of advantage for many individuals who do not always admit that they enjoy a certain privilege only because of a mere coincidence. In fact, they are not always aware of being privileged. As a rule, the boundaries of such groups can be delineated by such markers as gender, race, ethnicity, religion and other criteria that are often used to classify people. This issue can be widely discussed by various researchers such as sociologists and psychologists who want to understand the interactions between different community members.

This essay is aimed at discussing the advantages that can be derived from mere belonging to a specific group, but not from the conscious effort of a person. Moreover, it is necessary to explore the relations between the degree of privilege and the options that are available to a person. One can say that as a rule, these options are related to such areas as employment, education, interactions with governmental institutions, as well as culture. These are the main questions that should be examined more closely. These issues are important for understanding the behaviour of separate individuals and groups.

It should be mentioned that in many cases, people are not fully aware of the fact that they occupy a privileged position in society, even though they did nothing in order to achieve this goal. To some degree, this issue is relevant if one speaks about males who do not fully recognize the challenges that women have to face almost on a daily basis (Deutsch). For example, Barry Deutsch discusses a variety of advantages to which males are entitled due to existing social norms; for instance, they are more likely to be hired for a prestigious job. Additionally, they are not pressured to stay at home in order to care about children.

This requirement is usually set for women who are primarily responsible for childbearing (Deutsch). Additionally, these people do not always have to meet the rigid standards of physical attractiveness; in particular, males do not have to be too much concerned about extra weight (Deutsch). Finally, they do not have to overcome the effects of gender stereotypes. On the whole, the article written by Barry Deutsch is very informative because it demonstrates that in many cases, privilege is simply a matter of chance, and it is derived from the membership to a particular social group. In turn, advantage can be described as opportunities that originate from the privilege of being a part of a certain group. In turn, one can also argue that due to the existing social norms, gender has become a source of advantage or disadvantage. Thus, these factors can profoundly influence the experiences of a person. This is one of the issues that can be singled out.

Additionally, it is vital to remember the so-called white privilege. Again, one should bear in mind that many white people want to emphasize the idea that their social status depends primarily on their individual actions and decisions. Yet, their successes or failures should not be attributed to their background or race (Flagg 1). In turn, the article written by Peggy McIntosh can throw light on this issue. In particular, this author notes that white people feel that they belong to the mainstream culture of the society (McIntosh). Moreover, they do not have to face the discrimination of governmental institutions such as police or the Internal Revenue Service (McIntosh).

Furthermore, these people cannot be directly affected by racism and stereotypes. Additionally, these individuals cannot be marginalized by employers or co-workers due to their race. They understand that they are an inseparable part of the workplace environment. Again, one should keep in mind that in most cases, white people are reluctant to discuss the impact of race on their experiences. The article written by Peggy McIntosh is very revealing because it demonstrates that people do not always recognize the advantages that are available to them due to their race (Flagg 1). Very often, white people take these benefits for granted. It should be taken into account that in many cases, white people do not often use the word colour or race while describing one another. These notions are not usually included in their rhetoric (Flagg 1).

Nevertheless, these notions shape the identity of black people who cannot exclude skin colour from their daily experiences (Flagg 1). Overall, Barbara Flagg’s article should not be disregarded because the author shows how white and black people perceive race (Flagg 2). In many cases, their perceptions differ significantly. This is one of the issues that one should take into consideration.

Privilege can be also be associated with the sexual orientation of an individual. For example, one can say that heterosexual people do not have to prove that they are not outcasts. Thus, one can say that homosexual individuals have to overcome the legacies of the past decades when they were often marginalized (Becker 7). Moreover, heterosexual people do not have to demonstrate that they can be good parents, even though many heterosexual couples act in a very irresponsible way (Becker 20).

However, this issue is of great importance to homosexual couples. Furthermore, they do not have to prove that they have the right to be married. Therefore, the sexual orientation of a person is also associated with privilege. There are other aspects on which privilege can be based. Religion can also be a source of privilege for an individual. In particular, Christians are not forced to dispel the negative stereotypes about their religion. However, this difficulty is closely familiar to many Muslims who may be living in Europe or the United States. Additionally, one should speak about class and income level of an individual. It is usually extremely difficult for a person coming from a poor family to prove that he/she deserves success and recognition. Thus, it is possible to argue that privilege and advantage originate from the membership to a specific group.

To some degree, these examples show that very often, people are unwilling to accept the idea that they occupy a privileged position due to their race, gender, or sexual orientation. This is one of the arguments that can be put forward. It is also possible to say that some people are better safeguarded against various risks such as discrimination. Moreover, they usually have more opportunities that are related to employment or education. Additionally, they do not have to dispel negative cultural stereotypes. These are some of the main details that should be taken into account.

On the whole, this discussion shows that coincidental belonging to a certain group can be viewed as a form of privilege. The main issue is that this state can give several opportunities or advantages for a person. As a rule, this advantage is related to such areas as employment, education, or interactions with governmental officials. These are the main points that can be made.

Works Cited

Becker, Gary. The Economics of Discrimination. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010. Print.

Deutsch, Barry. “The Male Privilege Checklist.” Amptoons.com. n. d. Web.

Flagg, Barbara. “Was Blind, But Now I See: White Race Consciousness & the Law.” Michigan Law Review 91. 5 (1993): 1-7. Print.

McIntosh, Peggy. “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” Umich.edu, 1989. Web.

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IvyPanda. (2020, May 25). Belonging to a Social Group: Benefits and Privilege. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/belonging-to-a-social-group-benefits-and-privilege/

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"Belonging to a Social Group: Benefits and Privilege." IvyPanda, 25 May 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/belonging-to-a-social-group-benefits-and-privilege/.

1. IvyPanda. "Belonging to a Social Group: Benefits and Privilege." May 25, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/belonging-to-a-social-group-benefits-and-privilege/.


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IvyPanda. "Belonging to a Social Group: Benefits and Privilege." May 25, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/belonging-to-a-social-group-benefits-and-privilege/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Belonging to a Social Group: Benefits and Privilege." May 25, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/belonging-to-a-social-group-benefits-and-privilege/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Belonging to a Social Group: Benefits and Privilege'. 25 May.

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