Demography & Privilege

Privilege Theory Originated in the Most Economically Privileged Country in the World

The earliest cognates of the concept of privilege, which track unearned advantages that may or may not be discriminatory, can be traced back to E. B. Du Bois. Though the commonly known form of the concept is perhaps most aptly credited to Peggy McIntosh, a women’s-studies scholar at Wellesley who gave the term a lease on life in 1988 (Rothman 2014). It is true, some demographics are always worse off than others on account of lack of access to unearned advantages comprising privilege. This doesn’t make it any less ironic that the concept of privilege and privilege theory originated, and continues to proliferate, in a country that accounted for 26.98% of global GDP in 1988 and 24.32% of global GDP in 2016. Compare this to India’s 2.83% , or Egypt’s 0.45%, contribution to global GDP in 2016.

May be it is time privilege theorists ponder this historical curiosity—and check their demographic privilege—before deigning to explain the intricacies of privilege to outraged simpletons from low GDP countries.


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