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What is privilege? Privilege is advantages, benefits, and access to resources that individuals receive because of social groups they are perceived to be a part of. Privilege is often a result of systematic targeting and/or marginalization of another social group.
Privilege is often invisible to those who have it.
Why is privilege a part of the ACT UP method for evaluating sources? The ACT UP method challenges you to think critically about the sources you are getting your information from and citing in your own work. While other methods may stop at showing you how to evaluate resources for their traditional scholarly value, ACT UP pushes further to consider a more holistic understanding of the resource.
Regardless of our personal awareness of it, privilege exists and has an impact on the research that gets published, the voices that get to partake in the conversation, and the perspective the author(s) bring to their writing. Analyzing the privilege of the author will help you to see what perspectives may be missing in your research and gives you the opportunity to seek those voices in order to build a more inclusive and accurate picture of the topic you are researching.
What effect does privilege have on the articles being published? Articles published in academic journals are disproportionately authored by those who often hold the most inherent privilege in our society: white men. This is due to systemic discrimination and reflective of the privilege of the authors have held throughout their lives. [Learn more about this by checking out some of the further reading on the right] Unfortunately, because most articles published in academic journals are authored by this one demographic, many voices and perspectives are not reflected in the body of published works. In order to find those perspectives and include them in your own research, check out the
Citation Activism tab. In research articles, white people and men tend to be over represented in samples. Many articles conduct research using homogenous (not diverse) participant groups and then make broad statements about correlation or causation for all people. It's important that statements are only made in the context of the group being studied. For example, do results from research done on white men stand true for all men? For all people? It is a privilege to belong to the group that is generally being included as research participants, as it means the results of research are more likely to be consistent with your experience.
How does privilege effect equitable access to information? Another aspect of privilege is access to information. Most academic source material is behind a "paywall" meaning consumers must pay in order to access the information. Many of the scholarly sources available through our library website are only accessible to active members of the Saint Rose community, including students, faculty, and staff. This is because the Hellman Library pays subscription fees in order to provide access to these materials and we are limited to sharing that access with only our active community.
Consider what this means for those doing research who are not current students or workers at a college or university. What resources do they have access to? How is their access to information different than yours?
Resources for Further Reading