Friday, November 2, 2007

What Privilege Do You Have?

I saw a blog game on a couple of Quaker blogs (this one and this one), so I thought I'd offer a similar game with a spin on class based. It's based on an exercise developed by Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, Stacy Ploskonka at Indiana State University that I found on this Yahoo group around class on college campuses. The exercise developers hold the copyright but have given me permission to post it here and ask that if you participate in this blog game, you acknowledge their copyright.

If you post this in your blog, please leave a comment on this post.

Father went to college (for a year until he enlisted in the Army Air Corps for WW II)
Father finished college
Mother went to college
Mother finished college
Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor.
Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers
Had more than 50 books in your childhood home
Had more than 500 books in your childhood home
Were read children's books by a parent
Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18
Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18
The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively
Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18
Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs*
Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs*
Went to a private high school
Went to summer camp
Had a private tutor before you turned 18
Family vacations involved staying at hotels
Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18
Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them (a 1976 pea-green Plymouth Valiant they bought at a state auction for $500 in 1985)
There was original art in your house when you were a child
Had a phone in your room before you turned 18 (for one year when I had a paper route and could pay the bill)
You and your family lived in a single family house (after I turned 6)
Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home (see above)
You had your own room as a child (only after my parents converted an unheated porch into a bedroom for my brother when we became too old to share a room, and not during the year my grandmother lived with us)
Participated in an SAT/ACT prep course
Had your own TV in your room in High School
Owned a mutual fund or IRA in High School or College
Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16
Went on a cruise with your family
Went on more than one cruise with your family
Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up
You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family

*These two are edited because Christine pointed out that the previous wording didn't clearly delineate between people who had their tuition paid for them and people who worked for their college expenses.

In the group exercise which was originally designed for college students, staff and faculty, everyone stands in a line and steps forward if any of these things are true for them.

If we were all in a big room, I would have taken 5 steps forward. How about you? How many would you have taken? How many steps will your kids have taken by the time they're 18 (or how many did they take before they turned 18)?

Notice that each of these are things that were given to you or provided for you rather than things you necessarily earned yourself. The exercise instructions note that just because you've taken a lot of steps doesn't mean that you haven't worked hard to get where you are. But perhaps consider the things you've had handed to you that others didn't have.

For instance, if I'd not been given a car, I don't think I would have been able to go to college the first time around because there was no way I could afford to stay on campus (or near campus--I lived with my parents my first year).

To participate in this blog game, copy and paste the above list into your blog, and bold the items that are true for you. If you don't have a blog, feel free to post your responses in the comments. Once enough people participate in this little game, I'll do a Part II post about what all this has to do with Friends. (And you can, in your blog post, ponder what it means to Friends).

151 comments:

earthfreak (Pam) said...

Jeanne

I LOVE it, and not just because I'm addicted to blog memes. I haven't even finished your post, but I'm gonna do it on my blog.

Christine said...

It's interesting that the meme does not acknowledge that some people work their way through college; that seems implicitly classist to me. I have no loans from my first several years of college, and that was because I worked--as many as three jobs at a time. And really, compared to my classmates who were providing for their families while doing the same, my efforts were practically nothing.

Julie said...

Hi Jeanne. Martin told me about the neat list and I thought I'd try it out. He ran out the door to go to work tonight but told me to pass along that he'll be posting his shortly (tomorrow probably).

Funnily enough, we always compare backgrounds and his family had less money than mine (basically a single mother scenario living in apartments in the city) but culturally I'm far more "working class." It's a little strange. His mom tried hard on some level to remove herself from her growing up background, changing the way she talked, where she lived, and what she held in esteem.

And so when Martin and I got together I know he saw some of our family's "ways" as maybe a little crass, or something. I was raised with Italianness in play, and he was pretty much raised in an ethnic vacuum. Even typically Philadelphia-centric things weren't influential: watching the Flyers wasn't anywhere on his list of priorities. (For me growing up, the more blood on the ice, the better the game.) I had my own nail apron and tools by the time I was 4. Since they lived in apartments they just called the super, and dad wasn't super "present." For me getting your hands dirty to plant a garden, build, or fix something was considered worthwhile. For a city kid I'm not sure this even came into play. I could think of any number of things that made our cultural upbringings so very different. (Martin, when you were a kid did you know what horseshoes were? The game I mean?)

I also have a couple ideas for the list. How about "Had a pool," "Bought a substantial # of household/clothing purchases from yard sales," "Bought cars new," or "Went skiing?" Or just for kicks what about, "Love the movie Slapshot" or "Had a dedicated beer fridge?"

Anyway, here are my annotated results (the things not mentioned did not apply to me). I'm a mix, but a typical South Jersey mix of a working middle class:

STEP 1: Father went to college (for a year before going into Phone Co...I have no idea why!)

STEP 2: Mother went to college

STEP 3: Mother finished college (And grandmother...they went to the same one, a teachers' college/normal school. It's funny we haven't talked yet about "pink collar" jobs.)

STEP 4: Had more than 50 books in your childhood home (I don't know how many. I guess we had more than 50 esp if you count kids' books. My dad did/does not read ANYthing, though, except the sports page.)

STEP 5: Were read children's books by a parent. (OH yeah. Like I said, the daughter and granddaughter of school teachers. And I loved them. But couldn't you take out books from the library, too? We always did, and that costs nothing. Also my godmother, who went to the same school and who was my mom's best friend, is a librarian! Pink collar again. She always gave me books for my bday and now for my kids, too. I've never thought of being read to as indicative of class status. What do you think?)

STEP 6: Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18 (Yup...gymnastics and piano. I certainly can see this as a class separator. However, the piano lessons were fairly inexpensive though as I took with the organist from our church. And our piano was of course bought secondhand. Also, my gymnastics coach was our piano tuner!)

STEP 7: Didn't need student loans to go to college out of high school (My mom's dad, the 6th grade educated farmer, had a family printing business and put away $ in trust for his grandkids for college. You'd never be able to make money like that today with such little educational/financial background. Pretty incredible, I think. How times have changed.)

STEP 8: Went to a private high school (Yeah, 99% of all the kids I went to school with did and we didn't live in an affluent area. A Catholic HS. Our town had/has no HS.)

STEP 9: Family vacations involved staying at hotels (My parents loved vacations, that's for sure. That's what they chose to spend money on.)

STEP 10: Had a phone in your room before you turned 18 (Ummm...this is a generational difference too. Not to mention that my dad worked for the phone co and installed it himself.)

STEP 11: You and your family lived in a single family house (Yeah. Parents bought it for $33K back in the mid-70s. A definite fixer-upper. And no loan to anybody but my grandfather or they probably wouldn't have bought it. Again, incredible.)

STEP 12: Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home (see above)

STEP 13: You had your own room as a child (3 BR house and I have only one sibling. My own kids don't!)

STEP 14: Participated in an SAT/ACT prep course (Taught by one of the HS english teachers. It was not at all fancy or expensive and most of the kids took it. Didn't help my score much!)

STEP 15: Had your own TV in your room in High School (The one I had in HS I bought. But I did have one before that. Ancient little B&W box that my dad handed down to me. My own kids will not have TV in their room.)

STEP 16: Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16 (Florida of course! WDW/FL is the vacation location of choice for most people around here. I think I flew once before I was 16. Jeanne, try out the WDW thing on Quakers sometime and see how they look down their noses at you. As expensive as it can be to go there, you will notice there is something crass, commercial, or whatever about it that liberal Q types tend to dislike. It in fact epitomizes everything a good Q should loathe.)

PS: I'm enjoying you blog. Thanks for putting up with me!

Jeanne said...

Julie--you're fun to have on my blog so I'm not 'putting up with you', I'm enjoying you! Thanks for posting your list. You raise some excellent question.

I laughed out loud at your suggestion of a dedicated beer fridge. We didn't have one because we didn't have alcohol in the house. But my neighbors had them. That's how I got my dose of the Flyers too.

The list, though, is intended to be things that helped people *advance* though I am not sure how having a phone does that other than being a source of social capital (I'm even more perplexed by the TV in the room). So even YWCA camp and free piano lessons provide a bit of advancement. I wanted to play flute as a child but we couldn't afford even a used instrument.

I do think being read-to is a class thing. It passes on the value of reading for the sake of reading and not just reading to read the news or reading for homework. My grandmother read to me when I was very young but she died before I turned 5. She taught me to read. After then, I was never read-to. I fell asleep to the sounds of muted television dramas and made up stories in my own head to fill-in what I couldn't hear. I often dreamed of Marcus Welby.

I especially like hearing what you're choosing and not choosing to give your kids because that's some of what I want to get at with my next post. Friends are passing on privilege and I want to know what thought they're giving to that, and what thought they're giving to equalizing that privilege for those who don't have it.

I'm glad to hear that you're thinking about it and making different choices than I see most Friends making. But I'd expect no less from you and Martin. :-)

Jeanne said...

Christine--Thanks for your comment and for coming by! I edited my list because of what you pointed out.

QuakerMom said...

I took 18 steps forward on this. As someone else said, some of them are complicated (my mom went to college, but not until her children were grown and she was in her 40s, for instance). But I tend to think that quibbles like that don't invalidate the overall exercise. Other commenters have said, "I had a TV, but I paid for it," or, "I didn't take out student loans, but I worked my way through college." Both of those kinds of things are complicating factors, certainly--but my first lover worked for money while in high school. The money was used to buy food for her family and help keep the utilities on. So it says something that someone might have worked for money during high school but then been able to spend that money on him or herself, the family otherwise being able to meet its basic needs. And doing this exercise creates opportunities for discussion of things like that.

I noticed, also, that "finish college" is ambiguous, and, as Christine said, might reflect a class bias. My mom eventually got an associate's degree at a community college. Did she "finish college?" That's also the level of education my brother has. Did he "finish college"? I'd bet the writers of this exercise were assuming that "finish college" meant a 4-year-college.

You could get at some of the ambiguity Christine brought up by adding, "I graduated from a four-year-college in four years." Many people who work while in college take more time to finish, although some certainly don't. Or you could add, "I was a full-time college student, without other employment."

You can tell that I immediately started thinking about how to make this exercise richer and more nuanced. And, possibly, in the process, too lengthy to be useful [rueful grin]. For instance, you might add things like, "During my childhood, no utilities were ever shut off for lack of payment," or "my home had a working phone at all times during my childhood." It seems to me that many items on the exercise as written differentiate between two points in the middle-class spectrum (if it is a spectrum--that's a discussion for another time).

At another spot on the spectrum, "My family had part-time paid help, like a housecleaner, when I was growing up," or, "My family had full-time paid help when I was growing up, like a nanny, maid, or housekeeper." I have a good friend and for years, we both assumed that we had a similar class background although her family had more money than mine. Then it came out in conversation a year or so ago that her family had "staff," and that seemed like a really significant class marker to us. Both of us would have identified as "middle class" if asked.

But an exercise like this doesn't have to be perfect to be useful.

Our meeting has been thinking about doing a study group on class and I'm glad to have encountered this--it would be a really good exercise for the group. I've done similar exercises around anti-Semitism and other things in the past, and they can be very eye-opening.

John Kindley said...

Hi Jeanne,

Just letting you know I posted my answers to this survey over on my blog. Thanks for the suggestion. I enjoy reading your blog.

Friendly Mama said...

Jeanne,
I posted my responses to this exercise. I think it should ask if the respondent went to college/graduated from college.
http://friendlymama.blogspot.com/2007/11/what-privileges-did-you-begin-with-meme.html
Mary Linda

Friendly Mama said...

Jeanne,
I've posted my responses to my blog. I think the questions "Did you go to college/did you gradute from college?" should be on it, though.
http://friendlymama.blogspot.com/2007/11/what-privileges-did-you-begin-with-meme.html
Mary Linda

Liz Opp said...

I have now posted my own responses to this exercise.

Thanks to Jeanne and Pam for their encouragement to do this.

Blessings,
Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

Robin M. said...

Here are the steps forward I can claim:

Father went to [junior] college [before the Air Force]
Father finished [4 year agricultural] college [after I was born]

Mother went to college
Mother finished college [and became an elementary school teacher]
[both my parents were the first generation in their families to go to college]

Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers [probably, but the public high school teachers in my small hometown were mostly more bohemian than my parents, so we didn't socialize with them]

Had more than 50 books in your childhood home

Were read children's books by a parent [schoolteacher mom!]

Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18 [my mother didn't get to take piano lessons as a child, so when I was in fourth grade, she bought a second hand piano and signed my sister, me, and herself up for lessons.]
Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18 [piano, flute, swimming, tennis, golf]

The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively [being from the west, my family lacks a distinctive accent, after my grandparents who immigrated here with Scottish and rural midwest accents]

Went to summer camp [4-H and church camps]

Family vacations involved staying at hotels [for a few years when I was young]

You and your family lived in a single family house
Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home [my parents moved from a trailer to their own house right after I was born. About the time my sister and I got married, they moved back to my grandmother's house, to take care of her.]

You had your own room as a child [from the time I was 6, I think. This may have started after my great-grandmother died, since she lived with us for a while, but I don't really remember. I do remember that I got a brand new bed!]

Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16 [No, but for a time, my parents owned part of a small airplane. My father always has to have some mechanical project going on. Now he owns a boat that he is "fixing up."]

Your parents took you to museums [but not] art galleries as you grew up

[Heating bills were a big discussion in my family! The biggest fight my mother and I ever had was about carrying in firewood. Which I had to help split, stack, and keep running in the woodstove all winter long.]

I could also add that in my family,

having tools and fixing things were considered normal and necessary

at least once a utility was shut off, but not for long

I worked for spending money, not for family support in high school

I graduated from a private four year college, with substantial scholarships, loans and having worked the whole time

I have traveled to foreign countries where I do not have relatives

My children will also not have a tv, phone or computer in the room that they share. We don't have a tv at all in our house, although I assume my children will have access to our family phone and computer in a few years.


I'm posting this here rather than on my blog, because I'm not ready to have a discussion about airing personal/class stuff with my parents who may occasionally read my blog, but probably won't make it over here.

Rich in Brooklyn said...

Hi Jeanne,
I just posted my version of this list on my blog over here.

I'm feeling, though, that maybe our discussions of Quakerism and social class should focus away from comparing ourselves to each other, illuminating though that can be. I think I could easily win the "I'm less privileged than you are" game with many Friends, especially if we focussed on early history rather than current employment for example. I could also win the "I'm more priveleged and thus more guilty than you are" game with many people who aren't Friends.

What I'd like to work toward is a more class-inclusive Society of Friends. Not one where Friends see themselves accurately as a priveleged group and who thus reach out to those "less priveleged than ourselves", but one where the "we" of Friends includes people who outside the Friends community are of different social strata but within the Friends community are just Friends - seeking for God's Justice and Truth. Getting there will no doubt involve an intermediate stage of heightened class-awareness. But once we're there that awareness, while persisting, should become much less important to us.

Not sure I'm being clear. Love to hear feedback.
- - Rich

Christine said...

I posted the survey on my blog this morning, and I'm now vaguely recalling a similar online survey a friend posted on her blog two or three years ago. If I can get it from her, I'll add a link to it as well. Blessings!

anj said...

Jeanne - I have posted my own responses at my blog http://bestandworst.typepad.com/bestandworst/2007/11/on-social-class.html
My husband and I both come from working class backgrounds, as did my first husband. My first husband and I were the first and only members in our families to graduate with a four-year degree. My oldest brother graduated with an associates degree in artificial insemination from the local ag community college. :) My second, and current, husband was the first and only male in his family to get a degree, his oldest sister had a teaching degree, and his mom went though a nursing program before it was a degreed program. Thanks for the invite, I will be waiting for Part II. Oh, about how it relates to Quakers - we are the family that brings fried chicken to the potlucks, along with homemade pies. I felt the social class divide much more as a Roman Catholic in Kansas, than I have felt amongst northern New Jersey Friends. That might be because I feel the Christian divide so strongly amongst liberal Friends. So it is more in my awareness. And, I remember when I was leading groups for a Christian ministry, abuse groups based on telling our stories, that there was a blue collar man who some of the woman leaders found scary. I volunteered to go with another man to talk with him, knowing he was fearful and not finding his anger scary. One of the woman, a wife to a physician, looked at me when i said "But I was raised with men like him." A good woman, with a real heart for her own pain and the pain of others, but there was disbelief in her eyes that my background could be so common. In that moment, I was really grateful that my dad showered at night, instead of in the morning.

Plain Foolish said...

Father went to college (after getting out of the Navy during the Vietnam war. I was born while he was in undergrad.)
Father finished college (and went on to med school.)
Mother went to college
Mother finished college (I was born when she was in undergrad. She later went back for a Masters degree, but I also remember her working as a stocker for K-mart. Except for her brother who became a priest, I think she was the first in her family.)
Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor. My dad and his brother went to med school together
Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers I guess.
Had more than 50 books in your childhood home My dad's a sci-fi fan.
Had more than 500 books in your childhood home Possibly. Certainly, we had paperbacks of the classic sci-fi authors and Mark Twain. We had a Bible and a couple dictionaries (a must - everyone in the extended family plays Scrabble very competitively, college educated or no.)
Were read children's books by a parent And non-children's books, too. Dad would study for tests by reading to me from whatever textbook he needed to study. The goal was to bore me to sleep.
Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18 the school offered flute, and my folks bartered for dance lessons for all us kids.
Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18
The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively - not usually. I'm Appalachian. Sometimes, though.
Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18
Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs*
Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs*
Went to a private high school small-town Catholic
Went to summer camp A couple years- Baptist Summer Vacation Bible Camp, and 4-H
Had a private tutor before you turned 18
Family vacations involved staying at hotels Sometimes. If we were going to the Big City. More usually, either a tent or a pop-up trailer. Or most often, staying with Family. I have a huge extended Family.
Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18 - no, but I did get a pair of jeans bought new for me for my 14th birthday.
Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them - no but they did let me drive the clunker for chores like picking up my sister and to get to work.
There was original art in your house when you were a child Tole painting on slate, a quilt, a crucifix that my uncle gave my folks as a wedding present, and lots of crochet work done by the women in my family. (I really *hate* the ghettoization of women's arts.)
Had a phone in your room before you turned 18 (wouldn't have taken one if offered.)
You and your family lived in a single family house We lived in the country. They don't have apartments out there. We lived in a mobile home while my folks got their degrees, and for one year in an apartment, then we moved to a poorly built house in the country.
Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home (see above)
You had your own room as a child (only after my parents converted a mostly unheated utility room when I started sleeping out on the porch because I was tired of being kicked by my sister in her sleep. I was about 14.)
Participated in an SAT/ACT prep course
Had your own TV in your room in High School
Owned a mutual fund or IRA in High School or College
Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16 - don't think so, but did get to ride with Dad in the helicopter when he made rounds (not all his patients could be got to by car.)
Went on a cruise with your family When I was 16 - a 3-day cruise that was supposed to be the treat of a lifetime. It was nice, but I discovered that I prefer camping.
Went on more than one cruise with your family
Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up Usually with some kind of discount or free entry.
You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family N/A. Our neighbor had a natural gas well, and for a right-of-way, we got an unmetered natural gas line, which we supplemented with wood from our land - Dad would harvest, and we kids would load it into the tractor's cart.

Plain Foolish said...

Oh, and I'd intended to also put in - My dad and my uncle were doctors, I had another uncle who is a musician, another who was a vet, another who is a cabinet maker, one who was a salvage diver, and one who retired from the navy, and most of the rest of my relatives are farmers.

And if my dad had tried to swank it over his relations, that would have been put a stop to, right quick. He and my uncle once tried to tell Granddaddy to stop smoking and he told them that if med school hadn't taught them any better than to get between an old farmer and his cigar, that they'd better quit than to keep on making fools of themselves.

In many ways, I feel I have more in common with other Appalachians than I do with other doctors' children.

Kato said...

I'm finding this whole discussion very interesting! I'm not a Quaker, but one side of my family is, going back a century or so. That side is the "educated" one, who place a high value on humanities and had college educations--but neither side of my family has or has ever had very much money. It's just that the Quakers live in "genteel poverty" and the immigrant side is more distinctly "working class."

I understand this has nothing to do with the Friends at your meeting, but I think it relates to the larger topic: as I see them, the Quakers in my life aren't "upper class" in the sense of money and social privilege (no country clubs or curses, no trust funds or legacy college admissions). They put a very high premium on hard work and practicality, as well as education.

Makes me wonder if the list you were given is really getting to the heart of you question? Education is one piece of upper class status (and certainly, a budget can not get stretched past a certain point, even if you deeply value education), but I see my Quakers (and really my parents and my self, when it comes down to it) as educated but still apart. There just seems to be something fundamentally different even with similar educational attainments, seems to me more related to consumerism and purpose?

Julie said...

I haven't read through all the comments and results of the quiz, but I'd like to.

A couple thoughts, that I'm sure aren't original ones:

1. "Class" isn't always tied directly to household income, but also to culture.

2. "Class" status seems to have something to do with the degree one is willing to assimilate with the more affluent in society.

(For example, in my family my ancestors felt that they needed to speak English because they were in America, and this value was passed on to me very strongly by my mom. As in, "They're in AMERICA! They need to learn English! Our ancestors did and they didn't expect any special privileges!" As a result I know no Italian whatsoever, just a few words pronounced with an accent that stick out oddly mid-sentence from the rest of my South Jersey English. And yet my family drew the line at putting up with the Irish, and therefore a disdain for Irish culture and fanatical pride, extending even and especially to St. Patrick's Day celebrations, was passed on to me. Ironically, I studied abroad in Ireland and not Italy because they speak English in Ireland.)

And a note on heating costs I hadn't thought of that someone else mentioned: we had a fireplace later converted to a wood-burning stove and my dad got a lot of free firewood because he worked for the phone co (on locations where trees were being chopped down). Never thought of that as being a heating cost-cutter. So many things I never gave any thought to...

A (funny) addition to the quiz: Did either of your parents insist on taking ANY item at all simply because it was "free," such as towels or shampoos from hotels or bulging pockets-full of mints from restaurants?

naturalmom said...

I saw this on friendly mama's blog and put it on mine as well. Thanks for posting it -- I found it interesting. I had 19 steps forward, though some are less indicative of my family's income level than they might appear. What really struck me is how indicative my steps forward are of my parent's educational and cultural situations. In that sense, it seemed right on the mark.

Stephanie

Kenneth said...

Thank you, Jeanne! My answers are over here: http://homefries.org/blogarchives/quakers-and-privilege/

I'm always interested to see how class profiles like this play out against my agricultural background, or against regional variations. Many farmers or agricultural businesses are land- or equipment-rich and cash-poor (or more realistically, cash-middle class), and men like my father, who owned his own business, work long hours at the mercy of the weather. So I would say we were the same or higher social class than my teachers, but they worked fewer hours than my father and had a greater security net.

And the heating question is really funny to someone who grew up in Southern California!

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

I did the meme; my answers are here: http://notfrisco2.com/leones/?p=3028.

Mother Laura said...

Thanks for this. I posted on my blog.

bint alshamsa said...

I tried this one out and it turns out that I would have to take 21 steps forward. Here's a link to the post:

An Exercise In Owning My Class Privilege

Sara said...

I agree with the comment about working your way through school. I made it through college (15 years ago) with no loans, but I worked a lot during the school year and even more in the summer. My friends from higher social classes often came to school never having had a paying job -- or more importantly, with parents telling them "You're not going to work during the school year. Focus on your studies."

I’d propose these:
If you do/did not have a campus job.
If you've ever taken an unpaid job for the experience.

I think these are big markers of class -- especially the internships one.

In my experience, anyway, the kids who come knowing about internships, who have connections to get good internships, and can afford to work an unpaid internship all come from upper-middle to upper-upper classes to begin with. My roommate, came to college knowing all about these things called "internships," that I, from a blue-collar city, had never heard of. And when I looked into them, I discovered that for the most part, they were unpaid. You worked full-time all summer and earned no money. Sure, some people got night jobs waiting tables or something - but people from my town had day jobs making money AND night jobs making more money. There was no way we could afford to spend 40 hours a week working for no money.

MountainLaurel said...

I posted it on my blog. I had 14 steps.

Tatiana said...

http://thefriendlyfunnel.quakerism.net/?p=101

22 steps forward.

LuluBunny said...

I posted it on my blog:

How Privileged Am I?

Nancy A said...

I went 6 steps in this game.

I found the questions a bit unlikely though. Some of the poorest families I know gave their kids new cars and tvs--it's an immigrant thing. I'm not sure we can measure class through materialist collections anymore.

We were all immigrants or children of immigrants growing up in a mining town. That any of us come out as "upper" class is kind of funny. My immigrant parents (and those of most of my friends) managed to put money where it did the most good--not into cars and tvs and hotels, but into lessons and books and reading.

The privileges to the privileged classes have little to do with what parents did or didn't do. They have more to do with the larger values and expectations of society and with access to power. My poorer friends with their new cars and tvs and trips to Disneyland (I've still never been) have ended up with much less power over their lives than I have over mine.

Ironically, even if I vote against the interests of my class--for example, by voting for increased attention to poverty, prison, and environmental issues, rather than tax cuts and blind consumerism--I and my privileged class still benefit from the results. We can't escape our privileges.

Lovin' Life Liz said...

Father went to college
Father finished college
Mother went to college
Mother finished college
Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor. (\
Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers
Had more than 50 books in your childhood home
Had more than 500 books in your childhood home
Were read children's books by a parent
Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18
Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18 (horseback riding, piano, voice)
The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively
Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18
Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs*
Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs*
Went to a private high school
Went to summer camp (Girl Scout. It was roughing it)
Had a private tutor before you turned 18
Family vacations involved staying at hotels (only at times, was usually camping)
Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18
Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them
There was original art in your house when you were a child
Had a phone in your room before you turned 18
You and your family lived in a single family house
Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home
You had your own room as a child (only after I was about 8)
Participated in an SAT/ACT prep course
Had your own TV in your room in High School
Owned a mutual fund or IRA in High School or College (only due to money for college)
Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16
Went on a cruise with your family
Went on more than one cruise with your family
Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up
You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family



That is 20 steps. Wow. A lot to think about for me….

Anonymous said...

Jeanne, this was a very interesting post and discussion. I ended up with 15 steps. One of the big class dividers in our area was whether your parents worked in the factories. Dad used his accountanting degree. The answers are more complex than a simple step forward. Almost all Catholic families sent the kids to Catholic school. Some of the schools cost more than others. Books in our home were usually gifts, second hand or library. Yet the simple answers show a higher class than I would have thought growing up.

Thanks a bunch, Mary M

Allison said...

Father went to college
Father finished college
Mother went to college
Mother finished college
Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor.
Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers
Had more than 50 books in your childhood home
Had more than 500 books in your childhood home
Were read children's books by a parent
Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18
Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18
The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively
Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18
Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs*
Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs*
Went to a private high school
Went to summer camp
Had a private tutor before you turned 18
Family vacations involved staying at hotels
Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18
Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them
There was original art in your house when you were a child
Had a phone in your room before you turned 18
You and your family lived in a single family house
Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home (see above)
You had your own room as a child
Participated in an SAT/ACT prep course
Had your own TV in your room in High School
Owned a mutual fund or IRA in High School or College
Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16
Went on a cruise with your family
Went on more than one cruise with your family
Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up
You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family

I risk sounding like a spoiled rich kid based on this test, and I admit to that. Which is why I'm so critical of the life, because I was an insider privy to it. As an adoptee it's hard to not think of my ease in life as a total fluke.

Allison said...

Oops. I screwed up the bold. Two should not be up there, I didn't have a credit card or a car. Yeah I know, so deprived. Also, I lived near Washington, DC so all the museums were free! I still can't get used to paying for museum entrance.

I think my age is a big factor in this, as each generation has progressively gotten more successful than the last. I think it is said my generation will be the first to not necessarily outlive our parents.

I just looked over the list again, and tried to imagine what it would look like if I had grown up in Korea to a young unwed mother. Probably quite different.

HysteryWitch said...

I have posted my response on my own blog.

GrumblySeeker said...

i am going to put it on my LJ blog.

rachelmichellek
AT
yahoo

lovecraftienne said...

I came up with five, all told. Was a bit surprised to see it so starkly laid out.

My kids, OTOH, would be closer to 15. Look at me, social climbing!

It's posted on my own blog (lovecraftienne, at livejournal), but it's locked. Thank you for this interesting exercise.

Wyld Raven said...

Posted here and on my InsaneJournal

Clawfoot said...

I've posted this to my own blog over on LiveJournal. Thanks for the eye-opener.

http://clawfoot.livejournal.com/633014.html

heldc said...

http://heldc.livejournal.com/489065.html
'Had a phone in your room' could be a bit clearer. Do you mean your own phone line separate from the house phone, or do you include extensions of the house phone?
I agree with the commenter who suggested 'bought most things from yard sakes or thrift stores', 'family bought cars new' and 'went skiing'. I'd also suggest some more basic things, such as 'had running water in your house', 'had reliable heating', 'could bathe whenever needed'.

Dawn said...

I've posted this to my LJ, and was told to comment here if I did so.

mycrazyhair said...

Thanks for posting this exercise. It was extremely interesting to go through the steps. Oddly enough, even though I think I'm fairly well informed about privilege, there are some things on the list that I'd never connected with privilege (e.g. having original art in one's home). Anyway, if you're interested, my answers are here: http://mycrazyhair.livejournal.com/897766.html

Christina

tyger said...

I put this in my livejournal after seeing it from a friend's lj and coming back to this post.

Definitely an interesting metric I wouldn't have thought of otherwise.

mamagotcha said...

posting on my blog, http://mamagotcha.livejournal.com/129219.html

adafrog said...

I'm posting on my LJ.
adafrog

wordweaverlynn said...

http://wordweaverlynn.livejournal.com/379211.html

The Angry Geologist said...

Mother went to college
Mother finished college
Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers
Had more than 50 books in your childhood home
Had more than 500 books in your childhood home
Were read children's books by a parent
Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18
Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18
The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively
Went to summer camp
Family vacations involved staying at hotels
Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them
There was original art in your house when you were a child (To be fair, it was done by my mom's cousin as a wedding present)
Had a phone in your room before you turned 18
You and your family lived in a single family house
Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home
You had your own room as a child
Had your own TV in your room in High School
Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16
Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up

dichroic said...

I posted this on my LJ, though I do hav problems with some of the questions. Particularly the last - I think a poorer child with protective parents might well know their parents had trouble paying for heat without knowing the actual amount, where a richer child curious enough to look at bills might know it.

As for me, I took 13 steps forward, though I didn't grow up with tons of money. I can claim to be a Quaker - in that I graduated from Penn! But I grew up maybe a small step above working class, in a Philadelphia rowhouse. I'm Jewish, which actually has a lot of impact on how I answered these questions - because there was a focus on education that led to books in the house, parents reading to me, Hebrew school (I counted that as 'lessons'). I think education has as much to do with class identity as money does, in the US at least.

Melissa said...

I've put it on my blog.

marnanel said...

I posted my response in the comments to wordweaverlynn's post, but I was a bit confused about some of the questions. I don't know what to say about my parents' college status: my father didn't go to college; my mother did a short teacher training course after leaving school, but I don't know whether that counts. Many years later during my mid to late childhood they both spent several years taking degrees by correspondence, which they passed.

Also, I didn't realise until a while after I took the test that "lessons of any kind" doesn't appear to include school lessons like English and physics and so on, but rather out-of-school things like ballet.

Also, I have an uncle who is an attorney, but I don't see that it makes *me* privileged. Maybe I'm just blind to it, or something.

Michele said...

I picked up this meme from Wordweaverlynn, and my response is posted here.

Interesting stuff.

junglemonkee said...

I'm a little confused by this. My family was poor when I was a kid and my father is not white, and yet the questions asked here would lead one to believe that I led a privileged life as a child.

This seems to be a white person's sense of what it is to be privileged, as it leaves out questions like "was your father ever pulled over/arrested/convicted for a minor offense?" or "could all your teachers and classmates pronounce your name?"

dragonflycat said...

My LiveJournal is full of offensive material, mostly language. There is an offensive graphic on my Entries page. There is a Parental Advisory graphic at the top of my Info. page to warn visitors. I use cuts and screening, but they don't always work. Please don't visit my blog if such things offend you. If my comment isn't posted because of this warning, I'll understand.

My meme response is clean. Instead of linking, I'll post it here.

Father went to college

Trade school counts as college, doesn't it? Post-high school education, at least. Diesel mechanic.

Father finished college

Don't know how long he went, two years?

Mother went to college

Perennial student. 1.5 years Practical Nursing (LPNI). 1 year Pharmacology and related math courses (LPNII). Continuing Education courses, Nursing. Business, company-paid, part-time, 1 year (medical insurance claims adjuster, 2 years). Other stuff that struck her fancy, don't remember specifics. Died 12 credits short of the equivalent of a Bachelor's degree. Had no desire to become an RN. Duh, what? Dunno.

Mother finished college

see above

Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor.

Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers

Economic class? Same or lower

Had more than 50 books in your childhood home

We loved to read.

Had more than 500 books in your childhood home

We loved libraries, too.

Were read children's books by a parent

Mother working divorced parent, in school half the time, read to me on occasion. Middle sister taught me to read and read to me.

Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18

Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18

Gymnastics, Swimming, Lifeguard/Water Rescue, YMCA

The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively

Sometimes, mostly not.

Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18

At 18, department store card, my own

Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs

1 year community college, grants

Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs

I worked 35 hrs./wk., paid fees and books

Went to a private high school

Went to summer camp

Once, YMCA, two weeks

Had a private tutor before you turned 18

After-school math tutoring, not private

Family vacations involved staying at hotels

My family, especially grandparents, traveled a lot. They never took me on a single trip. My family was abusive. Material advantages didn't make up for it.

Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18

Maybe half. Mother loved the adventure of thrift-shopping, took me along. I still love it.

Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them

Bought my own, very used, 18

There was original art in your house when you were a child

Mine! Framed, even!

Had a phone in your room before you turned 18

Phone, no private line

You and your family lived in a single family house

Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home

House was foreclosed when I was 23. Avoidable. Long story. I moved out at 22, had to move back in, moved back out, independent since. I'm 46.

You had your own room as a child

Just before I turned 15.

Participated in an SAT/ACT prep course

Registered for both, chickened out.

Had your own TV in your room in High School

Small B/W, Xmas present, new (mid-1970's)

Owned a mutual fund or IRA in High School or College

Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16

First flight, 24, I paid

Went on a cruise with your family

See above, older sister and cousin loved cruises

Went on more than one cruise with your family

See above

Your parent took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up

Often. Despite the abuse, I'm grateful for good things, like literacy and exposure to the arts. I was not able to finish college but test at college level due to self-education. I'm currently disabled, an amateur artist (line drawings, pastels, digital) and an aspiring author.

You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family

Mother complained, constantly, in detail.

Interesting meme. Thanks!

miwseshat said...

Hi there - this is making the rounds over at LiveJournal, where I posted it on my journal. You can find it here,

Interesting.

moiraj said...

I posted my responses in my own blog.

Kristen said...

I posted my responses to this on my own blog. But I am 42, so the questions about cellphones and computers at home are less relevant to me and those of my generation.

-- Kristen

Rachel said...

Father went to college
Father finished college
Mother went to college
Mother finished college
Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor.
Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers (not all the time, though, especially when i was younger)
Had more than 50 books in your childhood home
Had more than 500 books in your childhood home
Were read children's books by a parent (this was critical to my parents. my mom taught us to read before we went to school.)
Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18 (one year of jazz/tap; and that was only because it was VERY cheap)
Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18
The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively
Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18
Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs
Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs
Went to a private high school
Went to summer camp (i'm not sure if one week/one weekend counts, but...)
Had a private tutor before you turned 18
Family vacations involved staying at hotels
Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18 (most of it was made for me by my grandparents before the age of 7)
Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them (heck no! i borrowed a hand-me-down from them and bought my own car with graduation money after that)
There was original art in your house when you were a child (do finger paintings count? ;) )
Had a phone in your room before you turned 18 (hahahaha. even if we were the rockefellers this wouldn't have happened)
You and your family lived in a single family house (not all of my life, but a lot of it)
Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home (not all of my life, but a lot of it)
You had your own room as a child (not most of the time, though)
Participated in an SAT/ACT prep course
Had your own TV in your room in High School (once again, no matter the financial status, that would never have happened)
Owned a mutual fund or IRA in High School or College
Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16 (yes, my grandparents paid for us to fly to visit them once)
Went on a cruise with your family
Went on more than one cruise with your family
Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up
You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family (i only know now how poor we were. for example. we used to live in this trailer when i was younger and we were so poor that we wore long underwear INSIDE the house, because we couldn't afford more heat than that. but i never knew.)

i was almost never as wealthy as the kids around me, but my parents made sure we never lacked the important things.

RJ said...

Posted the poll in my LJ; http://rmjwell.livejournal.com

plymouth said...

posted on my LJ but friendslocked, sorry (nearly my entire journal is). I scored a 16. My parents didn't have a lot of money but they were good at finding deals (the phone in my room was free, our museum admissions were free, most of our books were used or free) and they valued education highly. I certainly did well by them.

controuble said...

I have posted my list in my blog here

Xtina! said...

I posted my response, in case you're still curious.

Xiphias said...

My answers are on my livejournal,
http://xiphias.livejournal.com/444235.html

I've always been aware that I grew up with great privilege.

(Amusingly, the summer camp which I went to was Quaker-run. I also went to a private elementary school that was Quaker-run. So I have some experience with Quaker values, which I think is a very good thing for people with as much privilege as I have.)

compilerbitch said...

My answer is on my blog at http://compilerbitch.livejournal.com/, though it's currently friends-locked. I can send you the text of the comment by email (or friend you if you have an LJ account) however.

Celine said...

My answers are on my LiveJournal at http://starcat-jewel.livejournal.com/391020.html (it's a public post).

I like some of the suggestions I saw in the comments about expansions to the list.

serendipitygirl said...

An LJ friend of mine brought this to my attention. Most of my blog is friends locked but this entry is public.
It's located here: http://serendipitygirl.livejournal.com/582989.html

Heidi said...

Mine is posted here:
http://adelheid-p.livejournal.com/87240.html

Tapati said...

My answers are on my LJ:

http://tapati.livejournal.com/310357.html

I bolded 7 depending on whether you count our trailer as a house, (if not, then 6) we lost the trailer anyway and ended up in apartments after that. Single parent family and I raised my own kids while putting myself through college. I counted my mom as having finished college for getting her AA degree. She got sick and had to stop before she got her BA as a re-entry student.

amg04 said...

mine is posted here;

http://amg04.livejournal.com/60841.html

amg04 said...

mine is posted here:

http://amg04.livejournal.com/60841.html

Desiree said...

Here: http://gameazel.livejournal.com/23502.html

Carol said...

Here's mine!

http://voodoodollie167.livejournal.com/132785.html

tristyn said...

My results:
http://mercy-rain.livejournal.com/185591.html

selaura said...

It's an interesting quiz, but I see a lot of things on there that are really variable in terms of "steps forward," at least, to me. Differences in locale can make a huge difference in answers being as significant. For example, in a rural area, it's much easier to own a home as the prices are a lot cheaper and there are government programs to develop the area(which is how I was able to buy my house). I've seen houses in my home town sell for as little as $8,000 for a small 2 bedroom. A comparable house in someplace like Modesto California would probably sell for just under $100,000 according to friends of mine that have lived there. Of course, going to museums and art galleries is so much easier in urban areas, whereas in the area I grew up the nearest museum was 80 miles away, and any town with more than one museum or gallery was at least 200 miles away. Books were something of a necessity with "country cable" since we only had a couple tv channels that came in decently and they didn't come in well in storms. Also, with no public transportation, getting a car in the country is almost a necessity since the family needs you to do things for them as soon as you can drive.

It just struck me how some things were bound to be "luxuries" for some people and "necessities" for others, even if they were poor or low income.

Angelia Sparrow said...

I posted on my LJ
http://valarltd.livejournal.com/748324.html

I said yes to 19 of those items and we were considered declasse for the most part.

I come from a creative family, painters, piano players, quilters, so I had exposure to the arts.

And I had involved grandparents.

vitaminacetone said...

I posted this on my LJ: http://vitaminacetone.livejournal.com/121606.html

Jonquil said...

There's a lot of privilege buried in the questions -- the ground-level assumption is that you're starting from (at worst) lower middle-class.

Elizabeth Bear leads off the discussion here. She comments: "If I were writing it, it would have things like, "Did you receive regular dental care and vaccinations as a child?" on it."

I would suggest, as a counterpoint, reading John Scalzi's excellent Being Poor. Note that somebody who scored a zero on the privilege scale could well be doing much better than Mr. Scalzi was during his childhood.

I grew up comfortably upper-middle class and stayed that way (note that my parents did make the transition from working class to middle and then upper-middle, largely thanks to the GI bill.) But the very questions in the privilege list assume an astounding level of privilege themselves.

Ruth said...

Very interesting

http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=63023464&blogID=343335911

Though I'm curious how the results will be interpreting considering there is not data about our current job/education/class status...

nacbrie said...

The problem here is that you don't need lots of disposable income to take your kids to museums or read books to them. And there's a huge generational and cultural gap - parents buying cars for their children is almost unheard of in UK/Ireland, but mobile [cell] phone ownership isn't (something like 90% of Irish 15- to 24-year-olds have cell phones); and while it would be an indicator of social class as to whether or not a 40 year old had flown commercially before they were 16, it isn't for an 18 year old in the era of €0.99 Ryanair flights.

My own results are here. I got 20, in total.

CJ said...

I put this exercise on my blog at:
notaprettygrrl.blogspot.com

Maria said...

What a thought-provoking meme! I have it posted at http://mariaklob.livejournal.com/203418.html.

gizmo224 said...

I posted this in my journal, and so am posting here as requested. Hm. How it looks when I filled it out, it seems the benefits I have outweigh my parents' backgrounds, though I suppose that is due to my father having a peculiar job. Heh, installing ornate tile floors pays well, but does not require a college education.

Erin said...

Posted in my blog.
http://kaige-of-ct.livejournal.com/

noelcc said...

Took the quiz and posted it in my LJ. Left it public so you can see.

I don't know if it matters any, but I grew up mostly overseas because my Dad was in the Navy, so my childhood was a little different.

Monique said...

http://moniqueleigh.livejournal.com/456095.html

Lori said...

Results posted in my blog here.

patsmor said...

The first part, on global conditions, is from cvirtue@livejournal the second half, on Civilized Life (I think) is from a university's data. (Credits below.)

1. We always had clean drinking water. We didn't have to carry it a long way.
.... We had a well until I was 16. Sometimes it failed and brought up sludge. When it did, we carried water in gallon jugs half a mile from the neighbor's house.
2. We never went hungry.
.....We had a lot of fried pasta and vegetables my dad traded for labor, but we never went a meal without food
3. We were warm enough in the winter.
....No. There were times when we couldn't get the oil tank filled until a check arrived for dad. The house would go to about 45 and we would snuggle under lots of quilts.
4. We could go to a doctor if we were sick.
.....Yes, but I suspect we didn't pay him a great deal of the time.
5. Garbage and sewage were taken away from our home.
......Garbage only after I was 12. Previously we burned and buried. Sewage after we were forced onto city water when I was 16. (Septic tank before, and it failed regularly. Horrifically.)
6. None of our female relatives died in childbirth.
7. We learned to read, we went to school. All our relatives did. Even the women.


Scoring:
If you can bold all of these, you are in the most privileged 12% (or smaller) on the planet. (Clearly, chosen privation, such as camping trips, does not count.)


On to class level questions...

ETA: Just found this text, which was supposed to go in front...

The list is based on an exercise developed by Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, Stacy Ploskonka at Illinois State University. The exercise developers ask that if you participate in this blog game, you acknowledge their copyright.

If you post this in your blog, please leave a comment on this post. To participate in this blog game, copy and paste the above list into your blog, and bold the items that are true for you. If you don't have a blog, feel free to post your responses in the comments. [Many people have italicized the items that are partial, need further refinement, etc.]

Father went to college
......Started when he was 33, on the GI Bill. Started in 1951 when he left the Navy
Father finished college
......At age 39, about 6 months before I was born
Mother went to college
Mother finished college
......Dropped out to work at a fuselage factory, which she ended up managing.
Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor
......I had 4 great uncles who were physicians. Two cousins who were attorneys. None in my generation.
Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers
...... Absolutely not. My mother and Grandmother were upper middle class pre-60's, but our family certainly wasn't. I suspect we were were one step up from trailer trash.
Had more than 50 books in your childhood home
...... Definitely.
Had more than 500 books in your childhood home
...... Never counted, but there were overflowing bookcases everywhere!
Were read children's books by a parent
...... And grandmom.
Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18
Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18
......Dance, viola, piano, swimming, French, Bible study, nature studies
The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively
......I don't know the answer to this one. I can't tell who dresses and talks like me.
Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18
Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs
Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs
Went to a private high school
Went to summer camp
......Girl Scout, Southern Baptist Bible School day camp
Had a private tutor before you turned 18
Family vacations involved staying at hotels
......Not sure how to answer this one, either. Only once or twice, or on the way to our end location. Dad usually rented a house and either went on his active duty rotation for the Navy (had a housing allowance)or worked using the beach house as his central point and worked the territory around it.Oh, and one trip when I was 17 to DC with Mom!
Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18
.....Socks and mostly shoes, yes. Up until I was about 13-14, we had a lot of donated hand-me downs, except for always brand-new Easter dresses. Much of the rest was stuff I bought myself from money I made baby-sitting or made myself from fabric I bought with my own money. Mom and grandmom made a lot of our summer, casual clothes. Again, I'm ambivalent about how to answer this one...
Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them
......Does my dad winning a non-running car in a craps game count? We never got it on the road...
There was original art in your house when you were a child
......Painted by my mom, great aunts, etc. And some native Asian art my dad brought home from the Pacific Theatre during WWII.
Had a phone in your room before you turned 18
......Only, I think, because it had been my grandmother's room before she became unable to climb stairs
You and your family lived in a single family house
Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home
......Yes. The mortgage was $115 a month
You had your own room as a child
......Off and on. Definitely after we built the addition, and I lived there when I was 16-18.
Participated in an SAT/ACT prep course
Had your own TV in your room in High School
Owned a mutual fund or IRA in High School or College
Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16
......Traveled with mom who was 7 months pregnant once to a family vacation. Drove back with dad afterward. I think I was about 11.
Went on a cruise with your family
Went on more than one cruise with your family
Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up
......Oh, yes. On the free days. My mother loved museums, architecture tours, living history places, etc. The most memorable trip was when mom took us to DC. I most remember the Smithsonian!
You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family
......Serious discussions/arguments about how much the cost of oil had gone up, and then when we had electric heat in half of the house knew what the electric bills were.

Horvendile said...

I did this meme on my lj Sage Insanity. My score was 21.

Anonymous said...

I posted the meme in my blog, but it's friends only.

FWIW, I bolded 7 items.

siderea said...

This is sweeping LJ! But there's a lot of confusion among my friends since somewhere along the line, the point of the thing got sanded off.

I posted it with discussion about privilege at http://siderea.livejournal.com/549293.html

yaffa said...

My results

petmoosie said...

I think that the cruise and the mutual fund/IRA ones will turn out to be time-dependent. If you entered college in the 80s or before, you will say no. After the 80s, it will depend on your advantages.

Heather G said...

Hi, this has made it as a meme onto LiveJournal, but not with all the credits. A friend of mine just posted your blog address and the study information, and I've just posted your address to my LJ as well, so hopefully some of the answers will make it back to your site and on to the folks who own the study.

My answers here:
http://helwen.livejournal.com/142327.html#cutid1

Kass McGann said...

The relevant post on my blog:
http://kass-rants.livejournal.com/62028.html

Unquietsoul said...

Just wanted to let you know I had posted it in my LJ.

I was surprised at the responses of so many folks who have posted it there and how so many of them had a much higher starting point on the ladder than I did.

msjann65 said...

Interesting game. If you check out my journal you will note from my answers that I was not at all privileged, yet my "undereducated" parents were very smart and made certain that we had books and that we were read to. Also, a live in grandmother taught me to read at the age of three. So maybe I was "privileged" in a way that most kids are not.

Will Barratt said...

Indiana State University, not Illinois State.

Will Barratt
Drew Lurker
Meagan Cahill
Angie Carlen
Minnette Huck
Stacy Ploskonka

JenK said...

On my LJ at http://jenk.livejournal.com/716996.html

mikkop said...

I posted this for me at
http://mikkop.livejournal.com/4358.html .

Being Finnish, I don't seem to be from the original target group, but you made me think of the differences living here instead of for example the US.

tinkerfrog42 said...

I posted to my blog:

http://tinkerfrog42.livejournal.com/1217.html

Thank you!

Silvia said...

Here's my post: http://pomoyemu.blogspot.com/2008/01/what-priviledge-did-you-have-meme.html

bright_lilim said...

Hi!

Here are my answers: http://bright-lilim.livejournal.com/87556.html

I'm not from the US, though, so not all of it applys.

Erinclot said...

I just posted this to my blog-
Stanleyinthecity@blogspot.com

moominmuppet said...

I posted it in mine

Myna Bird said...

Hello, after a friend on lj provided a link to your site I posted this in my own journal.
It was a little hard to answer some questions because of where I live (New Zealand). Education system is very different and very few of us heard our accents on TV (we all hated our accents because we were so used to US and UK accents and the occasional Aussie).

I still feel very privileged because I had at least one parent who cared that I went to university.

http://pinkdiamond.livejournal.com
Michaela de Bruce

crow said...

I posted on my LiveJournal.

Rebecca said...

This was a note to follow your request of posting here. Though since I added some commentary on things I locked the post. If you really want my answers and let me know I could try to get them to you.

I found the choices of some things which were included cruises) and some which were left off (health care, food, theater or concert tickets, housekeepers or other people doing chores for you, etc.) interesting.

free-of-whip said...

Just to set the record straight, the authors are from Indiana State University, not Illinois.

Flora said...

Thanks for the interesting exercise. It makes me appreciate my parents more--they were academics who were very poor financially, but gave me many privileges of thought. ~Flora
PS - my blog entry is friends-locked, but I did include a link here and the copyright notice.

Will Barratt said...

I have been getting a few notes from folks directing me to this conversation, and I find it wonderful. Our purpose in developing the list, an awareness experience for undergraduate students and recent graduates, was to begin a discussion of class, and that seems to have worked. Our models of class, that stimulated this list, were Bourdieu as well as understanding class as culture and as personal identity.

Keep up the dialog.

Will Barratt - and while I don't speak/write for the rest I am sure they are very pleased at this discussion.

Stephanie said...

I participated, my blog post is:

http://learningthroughliving-stephanie.blogspot.com/2008/01/what-privileges-did-you-have-meme.html

umbo said...

I posted the meme, but I posted it friends-locked on my LJ because I just felt more comfortable talking about the feelings it brought up that way.

JoAnn said...

Thank you for this - I answered the questions on my LJ - interesting to see what was weighted and what wasn't and how many I could answer "yes" to (about 25).

JoAnn

starstraf said...

I took this at
http://starstraf.livejournal.com/604316.html
Really brings out the differences of life at dad's house vs life at mom's house - and how my life would have been 'more privileged' if I had lived with dad

Ea Blaze said...

Just letting you know I posted this on my livejournal (http://ea000blaze.livejournal.com/) It will be very interesting to see what my university friends will have to say!

Nancy S said...

Another LJ'er posts the meme.

http://rubian77.livejournal.com/578435.html

Geek Mama said...

Posted this on my Live Journal last night, and quite a few of the people on my friends list are picking up on it. Not sure that it 'proves' anything, but it's a really interesting way to find out about one's friends. Thanks for originating it!

Sofa said...

I didn't actually do it, but there's some narrative and commentary on it in my livejournal here: http://frandowdsofa.livejournal.com/317838.html

Nerddette said...

Posted to my blog.

Anonymous said...

This is fascinating. I'm posting it to my LJ...

linguafranca said...

Posted on my blog here.

Anonymous said...

Gee, Jeanne. Read your post on the listserver and then followed the link here. Looked at the class game and found I could say yes to only 2 things on the list. Brought back lots of memories of growing up on welfare, having the police come to the house on a regular basis because of the domestic violence, and visiting my mother in the state psychiatric institute.

Now that I'm an all-growed-up college professor it's hard to look back and remember how tough it was to grow up poor and gay. And I don't know about you, but I still wonder sometimes if it isn't all about to come crashing down on my head. When I buy groceries, I still think with some relief that at least I can last another month. I can still clearly recall what was in the commidity foods welfare package each month. It's totally ridiculous considering how much money I make now, but I find it difficult not to wonder when I'll wind up in jail or on the streets.

I guess I come from a working-class family, but even that term is deceptive. My father worked when he could. He was an unskilled laborer who could neither read or write (he used to take me around on job interviews to fill out his applications, hiding me in the car so no one would know). His union took as much advantage of him as his employer. Both saw him as simply someone to make money from.

I think the hardest thing about being a Quaker now is the class thing. I am certainly in sync with the spirituality, but Quakers still don't understand me when I try to talk with them about thier sense of entitlement. It was the most difficult thing about being a regional director for the AFSC. That sense of entitlement used to drive me up the wall. Even some of my deepest friendships in Quakerdom don't understand me when I attempt to talk about it.

When I do try to talk about it I find Friends getting defensive or guilty and totally missing the point. They shouldn't have to defend themselves or feel guilty, but to seek to have an honest discussion of class privilege. I try desparately to not send out accusations or guilt trips, but I still haven't found a way to do it.

Anyway, thanks for this blog. Now that I know it's here, I'll check in often.

Joe Franko

RL friend's friend said...

It's on my blog:
http://oligomania.blogspot.com/

aryspop said...

Kudos for an interesting meme. http://aryspop.livejournal.com/

Blair said...

mine is on my blog

reasonjo said...

Posted to my LJ

http://reasonjo.livejournal.com/163695.html

asaia said...

"Owned a mutual fund or IRA in High School or College"

While I'm aware that I'm considered somewhat privileged. I disagree with this wording. I pay for IRA out of the money I make, not out of my parents or relatives funding my retirement. Most of being able to afford it is because I work three jobs and only put in $20 a month. Which is nothing.

you can find my results at: asaia.livejournal.com

Yonmei said...

Posted on my IJ.
http://yonmei.insanejournal.com/835790.html

Not sure how relevant my responses will be: it is very US-centric. But a lot relates.

Ariel said...

Sweet, I'm gonna stick this on my blog.

yueni said...

I did it and posted it:

http://yueni.livejournal.com/650768.html

I didn't care much for the meme at first, but after having seen it placed in context, I couldn't not do it.

Tsunami said...

As requested, posting to say that I did this exercise at http://verybigwave.blogspot.com/

CMSeeger said...

I have added this exercise to my blog, thank you for opening up this discussion.
http://aggiepharmlibrarian.blogspot.com/

Christina

Elizabeth said...

I commented on the meme at:
http://www.halfchangedworld.com/2008/01/privilege-redux.html

Rural Mama said...

I did the exercise and posted it at my blog -

http://rantmama.blogspot.com/
2008/01/social-class-privilege-list.
html

Nicole McMullin said...

How interesting! I found this on my friend's online journal this morning and just

Tami said...

I just posted my results on my blog:

http://whattamisaid.blogspot.com/2008/02/exploring-my-own-privilege.html

I took 25 steps forward, not including a couple of questions that didn't really apply to me as a GenXer (cell phones and computers not as ubiquitous in the mid to late 80s as they are now).

This is a particularly interesting exercise for me as a black woman. Class is to often overlooked in discussions of race. And I have discussed on my blog before whether class is beginning to trump race as a social marker and indicator of values and success.

b- said...

I wrote about this on my blog, with a few notes about growing up in regional Australia. Thanks!

http://investigativeblog.net/?p=313

havestrength said...

http://relearningmyself.blogspot.com/2008/02/what-privilege-do-i-have.html

i posted about this on my blog. thanks!

eliskimo said...

Just to let you know, I posted this in my blog:
http://eliskimo.livejournal.com

ajlovesya said...

Great blog that addresses class privilege. However while I realize that in the end these different measures add up to demonstrate a certain level of privilege, does the manner of acquisition impact a person's sense of privilege and identity?

For example, I went to college and summer camp all because I was a "disadvantaged youth." My mother was 16 when she had me, I lived in a horrible section of Brooklyn, and we were on welfare. Therefore I qualified for a myriad of public and private social programs designed to give me these "class privileges." However, these things werent given to me just because: I had to constantly prove I was worthy of the scholarship or worthy of being in the program.

While I appreciate the opportunities given to me, peers who went to college because they simply had the money did not view their circumstances the way that I did. They took theirs for granted. I could not since I knew that one slip and I would lose everything.

So is it just about having the privileges or why you have the privileges that matters?

Ariel said...

I am a high school language arts teacher in MA and was thrilled to find this quiz! I am teaching a year-long unit on activism and injustice, and had my students read Dorothy Allison's "Bastard Out Of Carolina." I'm about to show PBS' "People Like Us" video which is a great resource for all things class related. Thanks for making this quiz available.

Jeanne said...

Ariel,

If you read this, please contact me directly at writeousness at gmail dot com. I'd love to tell you about some of the very deep controversy this exercise caused in the blogosphere.

Jeanne

Dan in blagvoice said...

Hey,
Sorry to be late on this posting, I only just recently discovered this site (and the quaker blogosphere in general). I've done some privilege analysis before, so I guess I wasn't surprised at the answer I got, but I wanted to ask what exactly the effects of taking this quiz have been to others.
As an extremely privileged person, I often find myself paralyzed when dealing with the class question (and the race and gender questions as well). I feel like I should be making myself feel uncomfortable by interacting and listening to 'others.' But I also feel like actively putting myself in those situations is somewhat patronizing. "Hi there, I'm someone who would like to simultaneously better himself and dismantle a system that I think oppresses you. Let's talk."
I agree that awareness is key. All oppression and all privilege is linked and the ability to ignore that privilege is the greatest privilege of all, but how do we move past guilt, past quantifying and categorizing and more towards seeing how our everyday actions are changed? You've answered some of these in more recent posts, but I thought I'd put the question more clearly, as I don't think it has been asked explicitly, unless I'm missing something.

Toby said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jeanne said...

I deleted Toby's post because I don't publish anonymous comments, especially anonymous vitriolic comments.

Mothering Two said...

kewl, i posted it on my blog with the answers. :) i think people are afraid of acknowledging their privilege because they think it means they didn't work for what they have. i'm looking forward to reading through your comments to see what reaction you got to this!

T said...

I posted this on my blog. Thanks.

Tracy

SARAH said...

posting it on my blog, jeanne!

and feeling guilty for having so, so many bolds...

jaya said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mothering Two said...

Hi! I'm about to post this quiz to my blog and I have linked yours. Thank you! I added a couple things onto it as well.

lorriemiller said...

Thanks for the thoghtful exercise! And, I'd post it to my blog, but my mom reads it, and so do my kids. If I highlighted the two items that apply, my mother would feel that this is somewhat of a criticism, rather than a simple fact. My sons would read it and roll their eyes at the priviledge they enjoy and critique (which I am grateful for). As a family (my husband and our four kids) have always valued experiences over material consumption; quality time and quantity time rather than simply quantity or quality time. But being educated, even with student debt, makes a huge difference in our society (even in Canada). This is the big difference that sets people apart, in my opinion. I have friends that don't have financial means, but have a high level of education, and from your list, their children would be 'privileged' as the activities and the reading, and the adventures their parents take them on. Personally, we rarely stay in hotels, but trek to remote beaches in pristine forests (near our home) and camp in tents and eat outdoors where we cook for ourselves. In that rustic environment, I feel so incredibly lucky, so priviledged to have access to such wilderness--but isn't considered 'privileged' by a traditional sense... just a thougth. thanks!
lorrie

Jordan "Rachel" said...

I used it on my personal livejournal with a link back here. Thanks. :)

kiwihelen said...

Just posted you on my blog and my response to this

http://kiwihelen.wordpress.com/

Little Black Car said...

I'm a bit confused by the "Family vacations involved staying in hotels" one. Do they mean:

" . . . instead of motels or camp grounds [which are cheaper and have fewer amenities]"? Implies more money.
or
" . . . because we could afford trips that required more than one day's travel time"? Implies more money.
or
" . . . because we drove instead of flying"? Implies less money.
or
" . . . because we didn't have an RV or camper trailer"? Implies less money.
or
. . . something else entirely?

I grew up in the west and the south, but my parents are from the midwest and northeast, so even a basic trip to see family pretty much had to involve either flying or two-plus days of driving. We stayed at Motel 6 or KOA: Super 8, which had a bathtub instead of a corner shower with a door that never stayed closed, was a big treat.

I guess we could have slept in the van, but three or four people (my dad often stayed home, for work, and to save travel money) can't do that very comfortably, and it's not safe to have a poorly-rested driver. Motels were always considered to be where you slept and bathed, but not where you spent any actual time doing anything, so they were the last place we'd have splurged.