Allan G. Johnson

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Final Research Paper
Allan G. Johnson wrote a book called, ‘Privilege, Power, and Difference’. He has written a very accessible introduction to the concept of privilege: the notion that certain members of society benefit from institutionalized assumptions and beliefs about what is normal. Conversely, attention is also given to various groups that are harmed by these same institutionalized assumptions. People of color, women, homosexuals, and those with disabilities are all included in his discussion. Furthermore, important criticisms included in this book are not only a wonderful introduction to the concept of privilege, but it also delves into how and why various systems of privilege are perpetuated in our society. Johnson is adept at shifting the focus from an individual level, where feelings of defensiveness and guilt arise, to the societal level, where the systems of privilege truly operate and are maintained. By looking at social systems and the way that individuals participate in them, he challenges his readers to act responsibly as agents of change, while suggesting that individual guilt or innocence is a debatable point when it comes to dealing with these systems of privilege. This is an important skill that Johnson wields, because American society traditionally celebrates the myth of the rugged individual. Johnson acknowledges and discusses this tendency of the U.S. citizen to think individualistically, and then redirects his discussion to the societal level, effectively re-framing the concept of individual guilt or innocence as a discussion of social systems and institutionalized biases. Hence, because of the various arguments this book poses and the level of thinking it ignites, I highly recommend reading this book. Allan G. Johnson is a writer and public speaker who has worked on issues of privilege, oppression, and social inequality since receiving his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Michigan in 1972. He began this work in the 1970s with a focus on men’s violence against women. After thirty years of teaching college students, he now devotes himself entirely to writing and public speaking. He has worked with more than two hundred schools and organizations in 36 states. His nonfiction books include ‘The Forest and the Trees: Sociology as Life, Practice, and Promise’ (rev. ed., 2008), ‘The Blackwell Dictionary of Sociology’ (2nd ed., 2000), ‘The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy’ (rev. ed., 2005), and ‘Privilege, Power, and Difference’ (2nd ed., 2005).  His writing has been translated into several languages and excerpted in numerous anthologies. ‘The First Thing and the Last’ is his first published novel. Johnson is available for presentations and workshops related to issues of social inequality, privilege, and oppression. In this work, his goal is to present controversial, often difficult issues with gentle and compassionate clarity, in ways that people not only understand, but can relate to on a personal level. He tries to offer a blend of life experience, humor, social reality, audience participation, and clear analysis that opens windows to new and productive ways of thinking and living in the world. As a straight, white, nondisabled male, he is especially concerned with reaching members of dominant groups who may feel so uncomfortable with issues of privilege that they will not even talk about them. Johnson is also available for public readings, discussion, and book signings related to his work as a novelist.

Johnson published five books which are ‘The First Thing and the Last’, ‘The Blackwell dictionary of sociology’, ‘The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy’, ‘Privilege, Power, and Difference’, and ‘The Forest and the Tress: Sociology as Life, Practice, and Promise’.

‘The First Thing and the Last’ is his first published novel. ‘The First Thing and the Last’ is an inspiring, heartbreaking story of the resilience of the human spirit. Over a period of seven years, ‘The...
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