Sebastian Barajas, Childhood Studies (PhD)

Faculty Advisor: Dr. John Wall


This article puts privilege theory in conversation with childhood studies in order to create a richer understanding of privilege. Privilege describes the unearned, largely invisible advantages that historically dominant groups enjoy at the expense of marginalized groups. The field of childhood studies was created in part as a critique of adults’ positions of privilege relative to children. I argue that while the concept of privilege is a useful lens for understanding inequality, including in childhood studies, it has also been developed in a way that fails to capture certain aspects of adult hegemony. Specifically, the current understanding of privilege as ‘unearned’ is problematic because children as well as other marginalized groups often work without earning. This article proposes to think of privilege as automatic rather than unearned, and suggests future directions for privilege theory and childhood studies to better inform one another.