Circulating among various sociology blogs is a meme that attempts to measure how much Privilege you had growing up (here, with links to others). I think “privilege” is a problematic concept–more exactly, it’s one of those social science terms that useful precisely because it is imprecise, and such terms only go so far. And even as a measure of “privilege” I would have issues with this one–in my own case, I think, it understates some nontrivial advantages.
Nonetheless, for anyone who is curious enough about my own background to click on the jump, here is my accounting:
17. Went to summer camp. Bible camp! Twice, even! Junior high Bible camp, incidentally, may be the biggest romantic meat market setting I’ve ever spent time in. More than the bars I went to in college, although granted I avoided the most meat-marketly bars.
23. You and your family lived in a single-family house.
24. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home. My parents do own their home, but it is very plausibly unsaleable by this point. A cousin of mine bought a 4BR house in my hometown a couple years ago for $50K.
25. You had your own room as a child. At least, after I was 9 and we moved out to the farm. For those who think I’m prone to TMI on this blog, chew on this: my now-deceased sister was 3 1/2 years older than me. When I was young, we slept in the same bed–more precisely, the fold-out bed from a sofa–until I was 6 or 7.
No, given my interpretation of the spirit of the question, but with caveat (3):
10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18. I assume this means paid, private lessons. I do a dim recollection of my dad taking me and my sister for one golf lesson once. I’ve no idea if this was paid; my guess would be not.
20. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18. Mostly, though. An advantage of my brother being 18 years older than me.
34. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family. What kid knows exactly what the family heating bills are? I was certainly aware growing up that the expense of heating was a continual issue with my family in winters, which is why our house on the farm is heated mostly with a wood furnace.
1. Father went to college
2. Father finished college
3. Mother went to college
4. Mother finished college
5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor
6. Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers. Where I come from, children of high school teachers occupied the kind of place in the intellectual hierarchy of high school that children of professors do in the places I live now.
7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home. BTW, a substantial portion of the books we had by the time I left home were caused by me (or my siblings), not the reverse. You’ll understand why I might be suspicious when sociologists of education use # of books in home as a measure of family background innocent of any endogeneity problems.
9. Were read children’s books by a parent.
11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18.
12. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively. Me, now, sure. Even today, the way rural Iowans can get portrayed in caucus coverage really irritates me.
13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18.
16. Went to a private high school.
26. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18.
28. Had your own TV in your room in high school.
30. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16.
Of course not, and even just the idea makes me chuckle (12):
8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home.
14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs.
15. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs.
18. Had a private tutor before you turned 18.
19. Family vacations involved staying at hotels. And yet, the very fact that we had a couple vacations where we stayed in a poorly ventilated trucktop camper provokes jealousy to this day in my brother and eldest sister.
21. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them. As far as I know, my parents have purchased one new car for themselves in my lifetime. My first car was $700 and purchased using money I made mowing the cemetery for our church.
22. There was original art in your house when you were a child.
27. Participated in a SAT/ACT prep course. I did study myself from a book at the library. Anyone who knows my Rendering Truck Story knows how badly I wanted a scholarship so I could get out of rural Iowa and into college.
29. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college.
31. Went on a cruise with your family.
32. Went on more than one cruise with your family.
33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up.