City Research Online

Experiencing privilege at ethnic, gender and senior intersections

Atewologun, D. & Sealy, R. (2014). Experiencing privilege at ethnic, gender and senior intersections. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 29(4), doi: 10.1108/JMP-02-2013-0038


Purpose: In management studies, assumptions surround the fixed, categorical and binary nature of male, ethnic and other privileges. Compared to white, middle-class men, ‘Others’ are typically assumed not to experience privilege. We counter this assumption by applying intersectionality to examine privilege’s juxtaposition with disadvantage. We offer an elaborated conceptualisation of organisational privilege and insight into the agency employed by individuals traditionally perceived as non-privileged.

Approach: Using diaries and interviews, we analyse twenty micro-episodes from four senior minority ethnic women and men’s accounts of intersecting ethnic, gender and senior identities. We identify how privilege plays out at the juxtaposition of (male gender and hierarchical) advantage with (female gender and ethnic) disadvantage.

Findings: The fluidity of privilege is revealed through contextual, contested and conferred dimensions. Additionally, privilege is experienced in everyday micro-level encounters and we illustrate how 'sometimes privileged' individuals manage their identities at intersections.

Research Limitations: This in-depth analysis draws on a small sample of unique British minority ethnic individuals to illustrate dimensions of privilege.

Practical and social implications: It is often challenging to discuss privilege. However, our focus on atypical wielders of power challenges binary assumptions of privilege. This can provide a common platform for dominant and non-dominant group members to share how societal and organisational privileges differentially impact groups. This inclusive approach could reduce dominant group members’ psychological and emotional resistance to social justice.

Originality: Through bridging privilege and intersectionality perspectives, we offer a complex and nuanced perspective that contrasts against prevalent conceptions of privilege as invisible and uncontested.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is (c) Emerald Group Publishing and permission has been granted for this version to appear here Emerald does not grant permission for this article to be further copied/distributed or hosted elsewhere without the express permission from Emerald Group Publishing Limited." - See more at:
Publisher Keywords: Gender, Ethnicity, Intersectionality, Privilege, Minority, Social identities
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
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