I have a personal experience that I think can be used as a metaphor for privilege and power, but I need to brush up on my reading on power. All I remember from readings back during my PhD, was there are multiple theories of power and in some of them (postmodern ones, I guess), power is not something someone has in order to give to others, but it’s there in all relationships. Or something. In any case, this is a cool story, regardless, I think!
Sooooo since my kid goes to school f2f sometimes (covid means sometimes she goes online) but I’m working fully online.. I decided it is safer that I take her to school by car rather than bus. Her school is not close to home, so I take her and stay nearby (at a café, mall or, most days, a club we belong to nearby). Because I get there at 8am each morning after dropping her off, I am really privileged. I get to sit wherever I want, most importantly near a power plug that works.
I used to just do that, and charge my phone and headphones on my laptop’s USB. But then one day, I don’t remember what happened. Maybe I saw a power strip in the supermarket or something. But I decided to buy one. That way, I keep my privilege, but I share power. Other people can benefit from the same power plug I’m using.
Mostly, I lose nothing and gain a lot. People notice that I have the power strip and occasionally ask if they can share. This has made me some casual friends who share my power on occasion. Now, even if I am in a meeting, they will smile and I will invite them to use my power. This is really cool for an extrovert like me, having lived through Covid physical distancing.
There are occasional downsides. My first negative experience was when one of those people (first time to share my power) had a friend who smoked. We were outdoors, but I still don’t like people smoking near me. I would have objected, but I was leaving anyway, so didn’t make a big deal. The other downside was once someone sat quite close by, and it was indoors this time, so I felt compelled to put my mask on. It was still far enough to be relatively safe, but I wanted to be extra safe. Another occasional downside is if me and the person sharing both have a meeting at the same time and our voices are loud for each other’s meetings. Then again this could happen at home 🙃
One more disadvantage was the size and weight of my power strip, and it was ugly. So I bought the one you see in the featured image above. Smaller and colorful. More inviting, I felt, too.
Maybe this is a childish metaphor for power sharing, better used with kids. But maybe it can be used for something more. Curious what others think.
Also, if you can connect it to a particular theory of power, let me know. I’m planning to reread the article by Burbules Theories of Power in Education.