The following summary of the conditions in which the workers of the new order had to live, itself quite similar to the foregoing data, may be sufficient to conclude this section which had dealt with the fate of the new industrial workers: 26Next Page
Profits, not human needs or welfare, decided in what types of towns, in what kinds of streets, and in what sort of houses the workers must make their homes. Cities grew without plan and with little consideration for the wants or needs of human beings . . . . Despite the power and wealth that the new technology afforded, the life of the average city dweller sank to a new low during the first half century after Watt developed his practical steam engine. People worked longer hours under more fatiguing and less healthy conditions; they lived in filthy cramped quarters without running water or sewage facilities, and populated the cities with unwanted and uncared-for children who often found surcease more quickly than their parents in paupers' graves.
Lecky summarizes the situation thus: 27
Wealth was immensely increased, but the inequalities of its distribution were aggravated. The contrast between extravagant luxury and abject misery became much more frequent and much more glaring than before. The wealthy employer ceased to live among his people; the quarters of the rich and of the poor became more distant, and every great city soon presented those sharp divisions of classes and districts . . . .
Von Wiese says that the coming of the industrial revolution "greatly accelerated this tendency toward stratification in English society . . . The cleft between the classes was widened by the wage system . . . . " 28 The period of history, referred to by Dawson and Gettys as one of greater equalization of opportunity and by Sorokin as one of most intense vertical mobility, von Wiese calls by another name.
The middle classes. As has been seen in the instance of the fate of the small independent craftsmen, "the lower middle class was threatened in most fields." 29 (It is a matter of interpretation as to whether the independent handicraftsmen of this period were a part of the lower or middle classes -- it is probably more correct to definitely identify them with the lower middle class.) This great group stood to lose by the coming of mass production.
Similarly when forced sales of land which accompanied the French Revolution were made, it was not the rural proletariat, which owned less than a hectare of land or none at all (constituting in many parts of France a majority of the population) which was able to buy up the national property. See states: 30
Owners of means and farmers on a large scale . . . constituted only a small minority of the rural population. It was especially this class that, at the time of the Revolution, profited by the abolition of the manorial system and the sale of the national property.
Knight, et al., tell the same story: 31
The Government furthermore took steps to destroy large landholdings through confiscation of the lands held by the Crown, the nobility, and the Church . . . . After their confiscation a relatively small part of these lands was purchased by the peasant, but a substantial area was absorbed by the middle class, which let out its newly acquired lands to tenant farmers.
There was an increase in opportunity, then, for certain elements in the upper middle class, especially the chance to place all their offspring in positions of respectability. But the rise of the third estate "was of meaning and consequence only because of the fact that the fourth estate existed . . . . The third estate could exploit the fourth and raise itself above it." 32
"One must not forget -- and this fact is of great importance -- that the bourgeoisie is the heir of that aristocracy," 33 says Sieyes, meaning the nobility.
The implications of the growth of the new class, the white-collar workers, usually associated with the lower middle class because of their superiority in dress, manners, and social contacts over other workers, during the latter half of the nineteenth century, were tremendous. It is generally believed (1) that they had higher class status than manual workers, (2) that they were more likely to have a chance to ascend the social scale than had manual workers, and (3) that they were likely to be conservative in political philosophy. All three of these items are probably true. However, the route to social success is narrow and contains many obstacles to deter the climber, even in this non-manual sphere of business. Many a man starts out to be a banker and ends as a dead-end clerk. (The researcher has been told that an executive of a large Fifth Avenue department store made a statistical study showing that out of 857 girls who enter retailing to make a career of merchandizing with the hope of rising to a position of importance -- buyer, for instance -- only one woman reaches the goal. In Europe the competition is even stiffer than in America.)
26. Dixon and Eberhart, op. cit., p. 457.
27. Quoted in Leopold von Wiese, Systematic Sociology, translated and adapted by Howard Becker (New York, 1932) p. 639.
28. Loc. cit.
29. Fahlbeck, op. cit., p. 265.
30. See, op. cit., pp. 5 and 6.
31. Knight, et al., op. cit., p. 481.
32. Georg Simmel, Soziologie (Munich, 1923 edition) p. 164; translation ours.
33. Quoted in P. Coudert, La bourgeoisie et la question sociale (Paris, 1914) p. 31; translation ours.