The famous Maass study into the backgrounds of German intellectual leaders revealed that of 4421, born since the year 1700, 635 stemmed the "lower classes of the population, whereas 3151 came from the upper classes." 31 Among these 635 were some whose greatness was only recognized posthumously, which means that their fame came after their social class position had been laid to rest without even the benefit of reputation. Artists offered a considerable number of those stemming from the lower classes, as did churchmen. The latter had been fortunate in receiving an education from the church. 32Next Page
It was possible for Maass to point out clearly that in those occupations where a certain talent was requisite, especially in the cases of artists and scientists, the participation of the lower classes is much greater than where, in the cases of military and governmental leaders, the environmental conditions play a special role.
Conrad, Eulenburg, and Rienhardt have all written studies about the social classes that contribute to the make up of German student bodies. Of 3000-odd students between 1871 and 1914 only 79 came from the working classes. Of these 60 studied theology. 33
In the schools of higher learning in Prussia and Baden, out of the 6000-odd students studied, 16 fell into the category of workers' children.
Of 2185 instructors in the schools of higher learning, 52 had fathers who were craftsmen (not wage earners), and 90 descended from lower officials. The rest were teachers (sometimes on a lower professional level) or were of equal standing with their children. 34
The extent to which education was monopolized by the upper classes throughout the centuries in rural England is clearly indicated in the following: 35
Winchester College was not officially founded until 1382. During approximately 500 years following, no son of Crawley's soil became a "scholar" in that College. Some may actually have attended but they were most likely to be the sons of the persons -- following the establishment of Protestantism. Now, this school is only five miles away from Crawley. Clearly physical proximity is ineffective in the face of social custom and economic condition.
The Chapman-Marquis study into the recruiting of the employing classes from the ranks of the wage earners in the English cotton industry during the first decade of this century deserves special mention. It statistics, if unquestioned, leave the impression of most extraordinary social mobility. Sorokin accepts the figures at their face value, 36 but Mombert states that "they are not particularly trustworthy." 37
Chapman and Marquis start out with the premise: "It is, therefore, in the interests of labour, and of the community as a whole, to encourage vertical mobility, providing that vertical mobility can be sensibly affected without the putting out of Titanic efforts." 38
The figures show that in the different branches of the industry 76, 63, 84, and 13 per cent of the managing directors started as operatives or at the same salary. Similarly, 42 per cent of the managers and 67 per cent of the assistant managers also "started at the bottom" as operatives or at similar salaries. 39
These statistics lead to the following conclusion: "Universally we found abundant indication, if not rigid proof, that there exists a free channel of no insignificant dimensions through which the directing classes are continually being recruited from the wage-earning classes." 40 Reaching back into history, these authors asset: 41
It is beyond question that in the early days of the factory system the movement of workpeople against gravity, so to speak, was common. Indeed, trade depressions were actually attributed to the ease with which workpeople, indifferently supplied with capital, could thrust themselves into the ranks of employers.
Where they received this bit of interesting economic history, no indication is given. It is not found in the recognized texts covering that era.
The statistical error, which Mombert suspected and Sorokin overlooked altogether, is revealed in the failure of the authors, in sending out their questionnaire, to distinguish between workers and those "persons who had enjoyed the advantages of middle class education and position and had started at the bottom to gain experience . . . 42 (Even the great Thyssen "began his career as a common laborer," although he had been educated as an engineer.) Statistically, it would have been more correct to have asked question pertaining to the social class standing of the fathers and grandfathers of these men, not the place in the factory where they first worked.
Statistics are subject to abuse as well as to use. For instance, to divide the population into the following economic classes is indeed unrealistic: those with incomes of less than $500 per annum, those with incomes between $500 and $3,000, those with more than $3,000. 43 Sorokin, 43a find that there was a mobility rate of 15.8 per cent within a generation in the income group "$500 to $3,000," 8 per cent falling and 7 per cent rising. In other words, if the father earned $400 per year and the son earns $600, this is a case of moving from one "class" into another.
Another instance of unrealism in social class statistics is shown in the cases of occupational classifications for women employed as white-collar workers. "It must be pointed out that in these statistics the social classification of women who before marriage were gainfully employed has been made on the basis of their occupational activity and not their family origin." 44 That is to say that when one of the secretaries at New York University, known to this researcher, marries the Wall Street lawyer to whom she is engaged, her social classification will be that of a secretary, without mention of the Westchester home in which she lives or of her friends who are listed in the Social Register.
31. Ibid., p. 1057.
32. Ibid., p. 1058; translation ours.
33. Ibid., p. 1059.
34. Ibid., p. 1060.
35. N. S. and E. C. Gras, The Economic and Social History of an English Village, A.D. 909 - 1928 (Cambridge, Mass., 1930) p. 149.
36. Sorokin, op. cit. (2), p. 444.
37. Mombert, op. cit. p. 1061.
38. S. J. Chapman and F. J. Marquis, The Recruiting of the Employing Classes from the Ranks of the Wage Earners of the English Cotton Industry," in the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, vol. LXXV (February, 1912) p. 294.
39. Loc. cit.
40. Ibid., p. 299.
41. Loc. cit.
43. Sorokin, op. cit. (2), p. 463.
43a. Ibid., p. 472.
44. Nothaas, op. cit., p. 14; translation ours.