Faced with the facts of economic inequality, the wealthy are confronted with a particular set of moral, social, and political questions, not least of which is the question of how to preserve a sense of being a “good” human being. In the case of justifying privilege, the problem becomes how to position oneself as being uniquely able to enact a superior moral character. In this response to Swalwell’s article, we argue that her data show how being good and having moral standing is a social outcome that is premised on the unequally distributed ability to do certain things, to enact certain roles, and to mobilize particular discourses. Swalwell demonstrated the complicated ways in which privileged students understand what it means to have a commitment to social justice, and her analysis raises questions about the possibility of as well as the potential for educating students with economic privilege toward social justice commitments. In this response we highlight the important symbolic role that economically disadvantaged groups play in the imaginary of students who attend elite private schools and what this illustrates about the ways in which they are complicit in sustaining social inequality.

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