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ERIC Number: EJ1094806
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: N/A
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0024-1822
Unpacking Teachers' Invisible Knapsacks: Social Identity and Privilege in Higher Education
Barnett, Pamela E.
Liberal Education, v99 n3 Sum 2013
Peggy McIntosh (1988) famously unpacked what she called an "invisible knapsack" of privileges socially conferred upon whites, men, and heterosexuals (1988). She argued that not only are women and minorities at a disadvantage, but those with social power enjoy benefits that are both unearned and unjustified. We often accept those privileges unconsciously, viewing our own experience as the norm or solely the result of our hard work. This denial, as McIntosh pointed out, keeps privilege "from being fully recognized, acknowledged, lessened, or ended". To counteract this unconsciousness, McIntosh made a thorough list of the privileges she enjoys as a white and heterosexual person, "conditions of daily experience which I once took for granted, as neutral, normal, and universally available to everybody". For faculty from groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher education, an awareness of the effects of socially conferred privilege--and, with it, the knowledge that their experiences are likely not unique to them or caused by them--can be especially helpful. Such awareness is also a call to those who enjoy social privileges to recognize the contingent nature of such privileges, and to be more informed colleagues and supportive mentors to those who face different challenges working in the university. So what exactly are the privileges? Herein, author Pamela Barnett shares the collective insights from herself and colleagues who, over the years, read McIntosh's work together and then rewrote her lists from their own perspectives as university educators. The lists are organized according to single identity categories (e.g., maleness, whiteness). Barnett concludes by suggesting several steps that would help create a more richly inclusive intellectual and educational environment in colleges and universities.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A