Distinguishing Between Rights & Privileges

Right vs Privilege

Privileges and rights are components of many constitutions in democracies across the globe. Although people are generally familiar with the literal meanings of these terms, they tend to confuse the two concepts, often expecting their privileges to be treated like rights. Rights are bestowed upon individuals by the constitution, while privileges grant immunity, benefits, or exemptions to certain individuals or groups. Issues arise when people perceive privilege as their right, instead of expressing gratitude for the privileges they receive. This article aims to clarify the distinctions between these two concepts so that people can differentiate between the rights granted to them and their privileges.


Rights are societal norms that come in the form of freedoms afforded to individuals by virtue of their citizenship or membership within a society. Rights are considered fundamental and inalienable. Constitutions grant specific rights to all citizens of a country. In fact, it would be inaccurate to say that rights are granted, as they are inherently present and can be claimed by individuals. The right to life is considered the most basic human right, and no person can be denied this right under any condition. Another fundamental and inalienable right is the right to freedom or liberty, which must be claimed by individuals if it is not provided by the government.

Many rights that people hold dear, such as the right to vote, the right to work, the right to move freely within a country, the right to choose a profession, the right to practice religion, and the recent right to education, have evolved over time as a result of societal progress and enlightenment. The right to equality, which has taken centuries to be legally recognized in many countries, ensures that there can be no discrimination based on factors such as skin color, gender, religion, language, or ethnicity. Today, there are numerous rights relating to various aspects of life, such as animal rights, people’s rights, and children’s rights. Natural rights stem from being human beings, while legal rights vary across different cultures.


A privilege is a special benefit or permission granted to specific individuals or groups based on their status, class, rank, title, or unique talent. Privileges are exclusive rights that are not afforded to all members of society but are instead limited to a select few. While some individuals enjoy these rights, others are excluded or denied them. For example, members of parliament have certain rights that are not extended to ordinary citizens. MPs are protected from legal action for their conduct within parliament, which is considered an immunity or privilege granted to them by law. Diplomats’ immunity from standard airport security checks in their home country is another example of a privilege.

Key Takeaways

  • Rights are available to all citizens, while privileges are granted to individuals and groups based on factors such as status, rank, or title.
  • Some rights, like the right to vote, were once privileges limited to specific groups but are now considered universal rights.
  • Privileges are exclusive, conditional, and can be revoked, while rights are inherent and cannot be withdrawn.
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard is an accomplished writer with expertise in creating engaging articles and content across various platforms. His dedication to research and crafting high-quality content has led to over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience. In his personal life, Gil enjoys connecting with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. His curiosity and eagerness to learn from others fuel his passion for communication. He believes that engaging with strangers can be both enlightening and enjoyable, making it easier to strike up conversations and expand one's horizons.


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