Undoing Privilege

Unearned Advantage in a Divided World

Professor Bob Pease


For every group that is oppressed, one or more other groups are privileged in relation to it. This book argues that privilege, as the other side of oppression, has been given insufficient attention in both critical theories and in the practices of social change and as a result, dominant groups have been allowed to reinforce their dominance.
For every group that is oppressed, another group is privileged. In Undoing Privilege, Bob Pease argues that privilege, as the other side of oppression, has received insufficient attention in both critical theories and in the practices of social change. As a result, dominant groups have been allowed to reinforce their dominance.

Undoing Privilege explores the main sites of privilege, from Western dominance, class elitism, and white and patriarchal privilege to the less-examined sites of heterosexual and able-bodied privilege. Pease points out that while the vast majority of people may be oppressed on one level, many are also privileged on another. He also demonstrates how members of privileged groups can engage critically with their own dominant position, and explores the potential and limitations of them becoming allies against oppression and their own unearned privilege.

This is an essential book for all who are concerned about developing theories and practices for a socially just world.

Author Bio

Bob Pease is Chair of Social Work in the School of Health and Social Development at Deakin University in Geelong, Australia. His most recent co-edited books are The International Encyclopedia of Men and Masculinities (2007), Migrant Men: Critical Studies of Masculinities and the Migration Experience (2009) and Critical Social Work: Theories and Practices for a Socially Just World (2009). He has been involved in profeminist masculinity politics for many years and actively engaged in campaigns to end men's violence against women.

Table of Contents

  • Part I: Theoretical and Conceptual Foundations
    • 1. Oppression, Privilege and Relations of Domination
    • 2. The Matrix and Social Dynamics of Privilege
  • Part II: Intersecting Sites of Privilege
    • 3. Western Dominance and Colonialism
    • 4. Political Economy and Class Elitism
    • 5. Gender Order and the Patriarchal Dividend
    • 6. Racial Formations and White Supremacy
    • 7. Institutionalised Heterosexuality and Hetero-privilege
    • 8. Ableist Relations and the Embodiment of Privilege
  • Part III: Undoing Privilege
    • 9. Challenging the Reproduction of Privilege from Within


'This is a scholarly, well-written book that attempts to portray a refreshingly new viewpoint about challenging and confronting an unequal and unjust world order. The author's transparent sincerity, humility and acute awareness about one's privileged position are embedded throughout the narrative. He persuasively argues against all either/or positions related to each form of oppression/privilege such as class, race and gender and proposes a new intersectional theory of privilege.'
Ravindra R.P., India

'The power of the powerful has long been recognised, and opposed, yet the holding of privilege, especially one's own, has been interrogated far less often. Undoing Privilege confronts major taken-for-granted dimensions of privilege: Western, class, gender, race, sexual, embodied. It also outlines ways to undo all this, in theory, practice and indeed activism - a huge task that makes for a very important book, written with brevity and humility.'
Jeff Hearn, author of The Gender of Oppression

'This landmark work takes our understanding of privilege to a new level, situating the concept firmly within sociological theories of race, class, gender, sexuality and ability. Should be essential reading for anyone committed to social justice.'
Abby Ferber, The Matrix Center for the Advancement of Social Equity and Inclusion


Publication Date: 12 August 2010
240 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781848130296
Hardback: 9781848130289
eBook ePub: 9781848139046
eBook PDF: 9781848135376
eBook Kindle: 9781780327303

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