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Privilege, Power, and Difference

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  1,113 ratings  ·  124 reviews
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, Johnson 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 success ...more
Paperback, 184 pages
Published February 11th 2005 by McGraw-Hill Education (first published 2001)
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Parker obviously its already been a year and you probably already dealt wth this but since i saw it and can answer.... the second edition, he adds…moreobviously its already been a year and you probably already dealt wth this but since i saw it and can answer.... the second edition, he adds ability(ableism) as one of the main axes of privilege/oppression that he discusses in some detail. but the framework he uses remains the same so you could get the first and probably just keep that in mind.(less)

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Apr 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone who is a member of some privileged social group
Recommended to Meen by: Nicole Carr (Mille remercies!)
Fairly early in my recovery I began to process my own racism, but I was never able to move very far beyond the discomfort of white guilt until my professor/mentor (Nicole Carr) recommended this book. It's a very simple instruction manual for revisioning our individual selves as social entities, for being able to admit where we have benefitted from a racist, sexist, heterosexist, classist, etc. social system which distributes privilege to some while denying it to others WITHOUT condemning ourselv ...more
Somehow books I need to read have a way of randomly appearing in my life. I found out about Privilege, Power, and Difference from a church visitor and, thanks to the awesome San Francisco Library interlibrary loan service, started reading it as a summer project. While this book is denser and less readable than Tim Wise’s book White Like Me about white privilege, Allan Johnson’s theories provide an excellent foundation for thinking about all types of privilege (the flip side of oppression.) He d ...more
May 13, 2012 rated it liked it

Everyone seems to have loved the book. I didn't think it was that amazing. Yeah, he is a white male heterosexual who sees the inequalities around him and he raised some really good points, but I just thought that the book was extremely repetitive. If you read the first 2 chapters, you don't even have to read the rest of the book because it's the exact same ideas in more or less the exact same words. It's a nice easy read if you're interested in it, but not one I would read again. Really glad I d
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is an excellent introduction to incredibly loaded topics. You likely won't find it groundbreaking if you're familiar with said topics, but you might find yourself with additional ways to articulate why you think what you think or feel what you feel.
Aug 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics, sociology
An excellent introduction to sociological perspectives on race, gender, and class differences. This won't be anything new if you're familiar with progressive thought, but it's to Johnson's credit that it's so well-organized and thorough for its relatively tiny page count. There is a ton of content here considering, and I'd love to see what Johnson has to say if he ever attempted to write a real exploration of these topics. It's clear almost from the outset that he's a bona-fide expert in these t ...more
Mar 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Ever present in the 2nd edition of Privilege, Power, and Difference are the ways that structural inequalities impact individual experiences/thoughts. Johnson explores race, gender, sexual orientation, and disability status with language that is easy to understand for those new to the field of work around privilege and oppression in this compact tome. Capitalism's oppressive power & contributions to inequality are also interwoven throughout this book, which ultimately helps to cement Johnson' ...more
Jun 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
For my internship this summer, we're putting together a Diversity Profile which will look at diversity and inclusion in the Minnesota Historical Society and the other historical sites around Minnesota. This is one of the books that I picked to read for research on this project and it is VERY good. Actually, I'd give it 3.5 stars.

Most of the concepts and information are things that I have already heard about and worked with in I Am, We Are so it was not surprising--just surprising that I would f
Feb 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
I found the book very readable. The author does a thorough job of wrestling with the issues inherent in diversity as a social concern, without preaching a solution. Sometimes I think that's ok, and this is one of those times.
Apr 22, 2018 rated it liked it
really interesting book given all that is going on in the world. the book was copyrighted in 2006, but 2018 shows things are getting worse in regards to addressing the issues. I would have liked to see ageism addressed more.
Holly Wood
So necessary. if anyone asks you to explain what social privilege is, this is the book you put in their hands.
Sep 21, 2017 rated it liked it
"Wouldn't it be tight if everyone was just chill together?" - the author's thesis
Oct 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Johnson's primary goal is to bring the issues of racism, sexism, genderism, etc. to the forefront of the mind so that individuals become of aware of the issues.

This is a good book for someone that wants to take a serious look at the role white privilege has played in the United States. The book discusses how institutionalized racism is in the United States. For many people it will be an uncomfortable read. To take a look at these issues has been an issue in its own right for many years, but if
Holli Keel
Aug 03, 2017 rated it really liked it

"It takes very little to make a difference. Small acts can have radical implications. As Edmund Burke said, if the main requirement for the perpetuation of evil is that good people do nothing, then the choice isn't between all or nothing, but between nothing and something."

This book was written by a white, cis, heterosexual, nondisabled man. And I'm still a little bothered that a guy who is most steeped in privilege was the one writing this book. However, I can't deny that he explains the concep
Sep 16, 2017 rated it liked it
This book reads like a long opinion piece and does not come across as being authoritative or convincing. My feeling is that people who already agree with him on the issues of race and privilege might find the book encouraging, but people with opposing viewpoints would probably not be moved. I also got the feeling throughout the book that the author was putting words in the reader's mouth and then refuting them. I found this style somewhat frustrating both because I wasn't thinking what he expect ...more
Jim Reaugh
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
At first glance at the title of this book, I thought it was going to be another of those books: you feel sick & worthless once you get to the end. This couldn't have been further from the truth!

The writing style is engaging & gentle - yet powerful. It was detailed in describing the impact of power & privilege in a way that I understood I am not familiar with sociology studies.

It has motivated me to share with those who have a hard time seeing the lines of power & how they
Paula Natalia Mejia
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: social-justice
Particularly useful as an introduction to anti-oppression frameworks and ideas on how one might take direct action and become publicly anti-oppression #staywoke. It's a really great, quick read. And even if you've been doing the anti-oppression jig for a while, this is a great reference guide and refresher. For me personally, it really helped bridge some of the understanding between feminist frameworks and womanism.

My mans is mad spiritual for a heterosexual, white man and I fucks with it heavy.
Aug 16, 2018 rated it liked it
What I like about this book is that it breaks down my defenses as a white male. It doesn't say you as an indivudual are responsible for privilege but says you have a responsibility to recognize your privilege and work together (not alone) to make the world a more equitable place. In general the book asks lots of questions so the reader can interpret their own emotions and how they're shaped by bigger societal ideas. I agree with some other reviews that the early chapters can be repetitive in a p ...more
Johnson does a great job picking apart what privilege & power looks like and how it impacts our society in big and little ways. I wish he discussed more through out what we can do to help change the system besides just the last chapter. This book has helped me really start to reexamine my actions and implicit biases.
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-classes
fine, but basic. there’s something to be said about me having to pay $59 for 140 pages about privilege and oppression from a cis het white guy. i also found that his epilogue’s call for civility contradicts what he says earlier about taking a stand, but that’s just my perception.
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great, accessible intro to this topic.
Danny Dyer
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An accessible but comprehensive exploration of privilege and difference in America, Johnson's Privilege, Power, and Difference makes an excellent primary text for the college-level classroom.
Vari Robinson
Dec 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Sometimes frustrating because of it being out of date (aka no discussion of people who don't identify on the gender binary, some outdated language, etc.), but overall a good start.
Angélique (Angel)
Feb 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: grad-school
Johnson does an excellent job of unpacking the concepts of privilege and power and how they interact to create systems of oppression in an easy-to-understand manner without forsaking too much of the complexity authentic discussion of these concepts require. Although I didn't agree with all of his assertions, I he got much more right than I expected from someone who is part of most of the social categories privileged in this country. My biggest critique of this book is that although the importanc ...more
Mar 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Allan Johnson uses this short book to explain something that's probably not new to anyone who's taken more than an intro class in sociology: what systems of privilege are, how to recognize them, and how to deal with them. I found it incredibly thought-provoking, especially having not read much on these topics yet.

As someone who hasn't studied sociology, I found his descriptions of social norms helpful, simply in articulating the power that social norms have in shaping behavior better than I have
Aug 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: social-issues

Allan G. Johnson has written a very accessible introduction to the concept of privilege: the notion that certain members of society benefit from institutionalized assumptions and beliefs about what is normal. Conversely, attention is also given to various groups that are harmed by these same institutionalized assumptions. People of color, women, homosexuals, and those with disabilities are all included in his discussion; however, one group that I noticed was not addressed was the growing and inc

May 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A few weeks ago, I came to a former colleague who worked extensively in gender studies asking him if he knew of a book that might help me navigate the elephant of privilege and understand how to use it productively. I was going through somewhat of a crisis at the time, upset over recent events involving the mistreatment of women I care deeply about, and a growing realization that the trend of violence against women that I was seeing was an indication of societal values rather than mere unfortuna ...more
Stefan Shirley
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Read this for a Multicultural Education studies course in college. I really enjoyed reading this at the time but I'm sure the ideas are quite dated today.
Andrew Shaffer
It's a book on privilege written by a privileged man for a privileged audience.

Johnson is very upfront about his position to the subject he's writing about, yet this position does rob him of some credibility which is only partially made up by his credentials. While he doesn't explicitly states it, this book is fairly obviously written for a middle class, heterosexual, white audience, one that has likely never had to think about the subject matter before. Read in this light, the book does a good
Mar 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
First I have to cop to the fact that it took a middle-aged white guy explaining it to me for me to fully perceive some of the intersections between race, class, gender, culture, and privilege in my day to day life. Very few pieces of information in this book struck me as new, but the arrangement of them, juxtaposing different types of deliberate and incidental discrimination to reveal the web of relationships that help me and hurt those different from me made old arguments freshly convincing. I ...more
Apr 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
Great basic info and language around some ambiguous and ferocious topics. I felt like I gained better ways of communicating my feelings about racism and sexism as I read this book. For many this could be a review, but I think that some of the connections and simplicity make it worthwhile for anyone.

"If someone confronts you with your own behavior that supports privilege, step off the path of least resistance that encourages you to defend and deny. Don't tell them they're too sensitive or need a
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Allan G. Johnson is a novelist, nonfiction writer, sociologist, teacher, and public speaker who has spent much of his life trying to understand the human condition, especially as shaped by issues of gender, race, and social class. His nonfiction books have been translated into several languages, and his first novel, The First Thing and the Last, was recognized in 2010 by Publishers Weekly as a not ...more
“It is more likely that the paths others have chosen influence the paths I choose. This suggests that the simplest way to help others make different choices is to make them myself, and to do it openly. As I shift the patterns of my own participation in the systemps of privilege, I make it easier for others to do so as well, and harder for them not to. Simply by setting an example - rather than trying to change them - I crate the possibility of their participating in change in their own time and in their own way. In this way I widen the circle of change without provoking the kind of defensiveness that perpetuates paths of least resistance and the oppressive systems they serve.” 7 likes
“People are tagged with other labels that point to the lowest-status group they belong to, as in "woman doctor" or "black writer," but never "white lawyer" or male senator". Any category that lowers our status relative to others' can be used to mark us; to be privileged is to go through life with the relative ease of being unmarked.” 6 likes
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