THE MATRIX READER: EXAMINING THE DYNAMICS OF OPPRESSION AND PRIVILEGE by FERBER et al.

*** (of 5)

The bottom line: Valuable information, perhaps with an ideological sway, at a very steep price.

 

In short, The Matrix Reader offers a wealth of insight on the intersection of race, sexuality, gender, class, and diversity, but I do not believe the book warrants a price of nearly $100. The text is a diverse collection of thoughts and ideas (e.g., essays, research papers, poetry, and data tables) from a multitude of sources.

Reader is not a linear book. Instead, each chapter, written by a different author, is devoted to a different subject, drawing from a broad range of topics. The writers come from a host of backgrounds, and each unique perspective reveals a different approach on how to analyze the sociological and historical factors that have shaped the modern dynamics of oppression, power, privilege, inequality, and prejudice. As the book makes clear, many of the forces playing influential roles in our lives often operate in secrecy and behind closed doors that many are wholly unaware of. The text is designed to bring such phenomenon into the collective consciousness.

Additionally, a large chunk of the book is devoted toward the benefits of diversity, the means to cultivate diversity in organizations, and suggestions for becoming agents of social change.

My only critique of this book is that it tends to make prescriptions for change in broad sweeping generalizations, which can often take away from the individual’s role in shaping their own experiences in a multicultural society. Furthermore, by categorizing all people as either “privileged” or “oppressed” tends to over-simplify very complicated and multifaceted issues. Many of the chapters in The Matrix Reader suggest that external and environmental factors are wholly responsible for the personal experience at the expense of individual autonomy.

I read this book as part of a graduate seminary course on leading diverse organizations and found it to be quite thought provoking, to say the least.

 

Dr. C. H. E. Sadaphal

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