Two common examples involve having access to a higher education and to housing. Under a newer usage of globalization advantages and disadvantages pdf term, privilege can also be emotional or psychological, regarding comfort and personal self-confidence, or having a sense of belonging or worth in society.

It began as an academic concept, but has since become popular outside of academia. Researchers have published a substantial body of analysis of privilege and of specific social groups, expressing a variety of perspectives. Some commentators have addressed limitations in the term, such as its inability to distinguish between concepts of “spared injustice” and “unjust enrichment”, and its tendency to conflate disparate groups. Americans did not think much about African Americans, nor about the effects of racial discrimination. In 1935, Du Bois wrote about what he called the “wages of whiteness”, which he described as including courtesy and deference, unimpeded admittance to all public functions, lenient treatment in court, and access to the best schools.

Fortgang was resisting seeing himself systemically. She argued that everybody has a combination of unearned advantage and unearned disadvantage, and should aim to try to see themselves in the context of societal patterns of discrimination and oppression. Historically, academic study of social inequality focused mainly on the ways in which minority groups were discriminated against, and ignored the privileges accorded to dominant social groups. That changed in the late 1980s, when researchers began studying the concept of privilege. Race, gender and social class are generally felt by sociologists to be the most determinative of a person’s overall level of privilege. Privilege theory argues that each individual is embedded in a matrix of categories and contexts, and will be in some ways privileged and other ways disadvantaged, with privileged attributes lessening disadvantage and membership in a disadvantaged group lessening the benefits of privilege. Some attributes of privilege are ordinarily fairly visible, such as race and gender, and others, such as citizenship status and birth order, are not.