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73 Examples of Privilege

A privilege is an opportunity or advantage that not everyone is given. This term is traditionally applied to advantages in life that are not available to the majority of people on the planet or in a particular society. For example, when smart phones first came out they were few such that access to them was a privilege. At present there are around 7.26 billion smart phones being used such that this is no longer a privilege as they have become commonplace. An individual may earn privileges through their own actions such as their talent in a job. It is also common for people to have privileges based factors such as nationality, family, class, wealth, authority, identity and social status. The following are examples of privileges.
Ability to Reduce Risk (e.g. purchasing an unusually safe vehicle)
Access to Aggressive Tax Planning / Strategies / Structures
Access to Clean Air / Water / Pristine Natural Environments
Access to Experience Goods (e.g. sailing)
Access to Expert Advice
Access to Social / Hard Infrastructure
Admission to Prestigious Universities
Association / Membership With High Status Institutions
Avoidance of Dangerous Labor / Tasks
Avoidance of Pollution
Avoidance of Toil / Hard Labor
Born in a Highly Developed Country
Business Opportunities
Community Acceptance & Support
Cultural Capital
Cultured Living / Cultural Participation
Disposable Income
Easily Gain Respect From Others
Easily Gain Social Acceptance
Easily Influence Others
Easily Obtain Nationality / Residence Status Where You Want To Live
Enjoy Camaraderie and Trust in Your Community
Experience of Cultural Heritage (e.g. fine art)
Experience of Diverse Cultures
Family Bonding / Strong Family Relationships
Financial Freedom
Health & Wellness
Hiring Household Staff
Hiring Personal Assistants / Advisors / Coaches
Job Opportunities
Know Many Influential People
Lack of Debt
Leisure Time
Life Choices (e.g. many opportunities and freedom to choose)
Loans / Access to Capital
Luxurious / High Status Products & Services
Never Having to Take an Unfulfilling Job / Role
Nutritious Diet
People Commonly Empathize With You
People Easily Grant Your Requests
Personal Freedom
Pleasant Working Conditions
Political Influence
Political Power
Preferential Treatment by Businesses
Preferential Treatment by Employers
Preferential Treatment by Government Services
Preferential Treatment by Justice System
Purchasing Without Financial Constraints
Quality of Education
Quality of Healthcare
Quality of Life
Relational Capital
Safe & Secure Living Conditions
Seldom Encounter Stressful / Dangerous Situations
Social Status
Spacious / Luxurious Housing
Standard of Living
Supportive and Stable Family
Surrounded by Positive Role Models
Surrounded by Resilient and Talented People
Team Memberships / Comradery
Time / Resources to Master Skills
Time / Resources to Pursue Hobbies
Travel Experiences
University Affordability
Vacation Homes
Work Flexibility
You Are Often Forgiven When You Break a Rule

Identity Politics

Privilege is traditionally used to refer to an elite, particularly the upper class. In the context of identity politics, it is used to refer to any group that has any advantage over any other group. This means that almost all people have some type of privilege. For example, "able-bodied privilege" whereby anyone who doesn't have a disability is privileged or "sighted privilege" whereby anyone who has good eyesight is privileged. It could be argued that this makes privilege an overly broad term that lacks nuance or that negates the original meaning of the term.

Critical Theory

In the context of critical theory, privilege is equated to systemic oppression such that everyday abilities and opportunities are viewed as oppression if they aren't universal to every identifiable group. This reverses the conversation where instead of people having "disadvantages" that should be corrected people have "privileges" that should be corrected. It could be argued that this benefits actual elites whereby the conversation has shifted from the privilege and power of the upper class to a divide-and-conquer situation where the working class and middle class are divided along the lines of identity factors such as race, gender and sexual identity.


Communism is a system that removes all economic privilege with forced sameness whereby a government completely controls an economy to guarantee equally austere outcomes for all. This type of system can result where people are more concerned with removing the privileges of others than seeking their own opportunities. Critical theory is related to communism in that it is a Marxist academic school that is designed to criticize dominant societies, economic systems and cultures with convenient assumptions such as the idea that all systems are oppressive power structures and that people have low agency such that they play no role in their own circumstances.


A meritocracy is a system that grants privilege based on individual contributions, performance, talent and potential. This views privilege as a positive thing that can be earned by anyone.

Upper Class

In reality, a meritocracy produces quite a bit of unearned privilege as families will transmit privilege. Likewise, privilege will transmit according to relationships such as friendships and would be influenced by any biases held by individuals with the power to grant privilege. This generates an elite in most societies known as the upper class that create institutions, relational capital and cultural capital that are designed to sustain privilege over many generations.

Rights & Freedoms

Privileges can be contrasted with rights and freedoms that are owed to all members of a society. For example, in a nation with universal health coverage, healthcare may be viewed as a right while in a nation where you pay for health coverage it may be a defacto privilege.

Social Market Economy

A social market economy is a nation that uses a capitalist meritocracy with competitive markets to create wealth but taxation is used to provide limited redistribution of wealth, primarily in the form of public services and infrastructure. Taxation is a primary tool to reduce extreme privilege. Public services also remove disadvantages whereby things such as education and healthcare can be provided to all on an equal basis.

Personal Privilege

Although privilege is commonly associated with groups based on things such as nationality and socioeconomic class personal traits greatly influence privilege. For example, traits such as attractiveness, age, height and charisma may greatly influence the defacto privileges of an individual. Privilege is also greatly based on your efforts and talents.
Overview: Privilege
Definition (traditional)
A significant opportunity or advantage that is not commonplace.
Definition (postmodern)
An opportunity or advantage that not everyone is given.
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