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Shamus Rahman Khan's Priviledge: The Making Of An Adolescent Elite At St. Paul's School

2106 words - 9 pages

Returning to his old high school after having had graduate ten years ago, Shamus Rahman Khan came in with one goal: to study the inequality of a school that claims to be more “diverse.” St. Paul’s School located in Concord, New Hampshire claims to have become more diverse over the years, accepting people of different racial backgrounds and social classes to their prestigious boarding school. However, as described in his book, Khan found that this claim made by the school is false. He also found out that the elite that used to attend his school is not the same as the elite attending it now. Nonetheless, it was the elite that were succeeding because they were the ones who could afford the school, had family linages that already attended the school, and mastered “ease” which made them privileged in society. Separating his book into five different chapters, each focusing on a different topic that helps support his claim, Khan describes this change in elite and the inequality that still accompanies St. Paul’s. In the introduction to Privilege: The Making of an Adolescent Elite at St. Paul’s School, Khan states the three most important points he will refer to during the rest of the book: hierarchies are natural and can be used to one’s advantage, experiences matter more than inherited qualities, and the elite signal their status through ease and openness. These are discussed thoroughly in throughout Privilege.
The New Elite, or Chapter 1, is where Khan introduces the idea of the new elite appearing at St. Paul’s. The new elite, according to Khan, believes that they achieve what they do because of their hard work. On the other hand, the old elite, that is slowly disappearing, believes they achieve their success because of their family linage. An example of this is a discussion that Khan had with two students. One of the students, Chase Abbot believed that he belonged at St. Paul’s because generations of his family had gone to this school. The other student, Peter, believed that he got into St. Paul’s because of his hard work. Both students come from wealthy families, but their ideologies are what separate them from old and new elites. Chase is demonstrating an old elite ideology, causing him to be put in a “minority” dorm that is filled with students that think like him. They choose to be separated, just like the minorities did when Khan went to school. Peter, however, shows a new elite ideology, shared with many other students at the school. This new elite, however, might not be entirely correct. According to sociologist Max Weber in his theory of stratification there are three things that influence a person’s social standing: class, status, and power. Class, according to Weber, means a person’s economic position, which is usually based on birth and individual achievement. Most of the students would not be a St. Paul’s without their parent’s money; therefore, their achievements are not completely theirs in relation to their acceptance to St. Paul’s....

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