This brief book is a groundbreaking tool for students and non-students alike to examine systems of privilege and difference in our society. Written in an accessible, conversational style, it links theory with engaging examples in ways that enable readers to see the underlying nature and consequences of privilege and their connection to it. This extraordinarily successful book has been used across the country, both inside and outside the classroom, to shed light on issues of power and privilege. (from the publisher)
Please Note: For those wondering about the 3rd edition, my conversations with McGraw-Hill lead me to believe that a new edition may be published by the end of next year. I’ve written a new epilogue for the 3rd edition that explores the difficulty of changing worldviews, that I believe many who are resistant to the core message of this book will find useful. If you have suggestions for improving the book, please use the contact button above to send me an email.
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Praise for Privilege, Power and Difference:
Allan Johnson really understands how interlocking systems of oppression work and knows how to share his understanding in a way that will be immediately accessible to students at all levels. Privilege, Power, and Difference should serve as an invaluable tool for teaching about privilege and oppression.” Paula Rothenberg, City University of New York
Privilege, Power, and Difference is not only an excellent introduction to the concept of privilege, but is also an outstanding discussion of how social systems work to perpetuate privilege, how individuals choose to interact with those systems, and how we as responsible people can change our ways of being in and interacting with those systems to create positive change.” Charles Dickey, Leftunder Books
When I first saw the title for this book, I thought it was going to be another of those books that make you feel sick and worthless once you get to the end. This couldn’t have been further from the truth. Allan’s book was engaging, gentle, but powerful. It was thorough in describing the impact of power and privilege in a way that can be felt and understood even by those who are not familiar with (or generally interested in) critical studies and sociology. I found this to be a text that I could engage with, but also one that I could share with those who had a hard time seeing the lines of power and how they impact all of our relationships in many different ways. I highly recommend this book both to those who have worked with the material of oppression for a long time as well as for those who are struggling to understand what it’s all about. The book is powerful and gentle at the same time – something that is very important when dealing with issues of oppression and equity.” M. Khalil Islam-zwart (Spokane, Washington) (Amazon.com)
It is one of the best texts I have read for introducing the concepts and consequences of privilege, power, and difference, how they are socially constructed, and how those constructions impact the everyday lives of people. It is an excellent work covering critically important ideas in an easily accessible style.” Amber E. Kinser, Feminist Teacher
This is a great book that will enable you to see aspects of our culture that are so interwoven in our everyday experience that we’re not even aware of them. It helped me see what we take for granted and understand what we can all do to make changes in our society so that it will become a place where people are truly equal. We all need to read this book and become more aware so things can change to become a more compassionate, just society.” Dr. Joan Robinson, psychotherapist (Amazon.com)
In Privilege, Power, and Difference, Allan Johnson teaches us how to think critically about inequality and oppression without getting mired in guilt or despair. He gently but firmly removes the blinders that keep us from seeing our own privileges and how those privileges harm others. Then he shows us how to walk the talk and turn our beliefs in justice and equality into practice. This is a book that will change lives.” Michael Schwalbe, author of Unlocking the Iron Cage: The Men’s Movement, Gender Politics, and American Culture.
As an instructor working in the Humanities, finding non-threatening ways to talk about privilege, whiteness, and/or racism is very challenging. As I read the negative reviews, I am even more aware of how difficult it is to get these ideas across without being accused of self-hatred, etc. In an effort to encourage positive self reflection on these complex issues, I have read many of the foundation works Dr. Johnson mentions. His recapituation of these ideas is indeed gentle. One of the best things he does is make it possible for individuals to recognize that, while they may have unearned entitlements in one area, they may not have them in another. In this way, it is possible for practically everyone to recognize the feeling of being an outsider and this can lead to a compassion and understanding that has NOTHING TO DO with guilt. This work can create a bridge. As an instructor in the area of cultural studies, I often must challenge individuals who believe feeling guilty is all they can do. It isn’t. Dr. Johnson gives us actions that we as individuals can actually engage. BTW the chapter on Capitalism is elegant dynamite. If you are open to the possibility that things can get better through a personal self-reflective understanding of our socio-economic location, read this book.” J. Kelly-Moore, Santa Rosa, California (Amazon.com)
I read this book filled with skepticism about what could be done about the problems of prejudice and injustice in our society. Johnson answered my every question and even pointed out ways that I fall short. He writes in a witty, conversational style, using many personal examples. I would recommend this book for absolutely anyone to read. Teachers: use this book in your classes. Mine did, and it has made a huge difference in my life.” Hadley Lehman (Amazon.com)
I adopted this very readable book as one of several required books for my Multicultural Psychology class and it has had a tremendous impact on my students. Johnson explains the concept of privilege, as it applies to race, gender and sexual orientation, in ways that allow my White students and other students with privilege to hear and understand without getting defensive. He describes why change is difficult but not impossible, what we can all do to stop supporting ‘the system’ and why we should. I recommend it highly for both college and high school students and the general adult population.” Jane Connor, SUNY
Privilege, Power, and Difference tackles the very difficult issues of privilege and power and sheds a great deal of light (and little heat) on subjects that are so controversial that they are often avoided. . . . This book is a ‘must read’ for all those involved in diversity work.” Katharine Esty, PhD, ibis Consulting Group
As a white male graduate student I was having a hard time relating to feminist theory and concepts. This book helped me gain insight and understanding without the feeling of alienation I felt with some other texts. I was given the book to read by a Women’s Studies/Social Work professor and have read it twice in two days. It is a great reference to create a base from which to develop a social conscience and gain insight on social construction.” M. Sanders (Barnes&Noble.com)