Simmel 21 refers to the power (Potenz) acquired by an individual clothed in the dignity and honor of state authority. This power is easily transferred into social class influence through the favors bestowed upon the other higher-class persons and families and their reciprocating appreciation.Next Page
Political office filled by regularly stated elections where the franchise is universal reduces the influence of political office on the social classes greatly, of course. But few societies afford or have afforded the luxury of democratic machinery.
The older form or alliance between political, economic, and social power will illustrate Fairchild's accredited theory of rotary action paterns. Maine 22 traces the history of political favoritism through Roman, Teuton, and English times. In fact, history is replete with tales of benefits derived by the upper classes from government.
Interests. According to their desires, people pursue various interests, and in joining hands for such pursuits, they help to create and maintain the social classes.
Interests, it is true, are more likely to lead to the formation of political parties or economic organizations than to the creation of exclusive groups of intimate social relationships. They are, however, hobby and recreational interests, clubhouses, charities, parades, and community events that give the social classes a chance to gather together or to show off their plumage before each other.
The "Karnaval" of Catholic Germany, for instance, especially in Cologne, is, (in peace times), the focal point of the interests of hundreds of groups which take part in the parade. They prepare all year for the great event; they spend hundreds of thousands of marks; they appear before the throngs in the insignia and costumes and floats which designate the type of organization, even the class, to which they belong. The gilds of medieval Europe walk past the cathedral again; each of the most fashionable clubs in the city has an expensive float.
Anything which causes the organization of a merchant's association, a trade union, or an agrarian party is likely to construct several cross-bars in the social class ladder. This is likewise true of professional or intellectual societies. Mosca says that "every group of persons that is engaged in a special function has a certain homogeneity of spirit, education and, especially, interests." 23 Gumplowicz describes the group process of formally social classes or social types out of organized associations in these words: 24
How many educated professions are differentiated in the middle class: doctors, attorneys, judges, teachers, officials, master mechanics, engineers. Each circle creates its own peculiar spirit, so to say, a moral atmosphere of principles, ideas, views, and conceptions, in which its members live and in which their posterity is born and educated.
Fairchild, in discussing the propertylessness of many denizens of modern industrial nations, shows how this division of people into the "haves" and the "have-nots" is paralleled by "strong feelings of common interest among the members of each group respectively, and a temptation to distrust, suspicion, envy, hatred, and antagonism toward the other group." 25 Elsewhere the same eminent sociologist states: "Common interests, on the other hand, are definitely socializing." 26
Marriage and family customs. Marriage has been referred to as a device by which the rich and exclusive monopolize riches and exclusiveness. Also, the rules discouraging inter-class marriage have been analyzed. Marriage and the family are the focal point of social class formation, social class-consciousness, and the perpetuation of social status. Marriage is a device by which the social class structure is held relatively rigid. Marriage customs may almost completely separate the classes, even as they do the caste organizations. Endogamy is the rule. There is no such thing on earth as enforced social class exogamy. Even those peoples who have almost no nobility, like the Chinese, may have something equivalent, from the social class point of view; they may encourage early marriages and they may control the mating process.
21. George Simmel, Soziologie (Munich, 1923) p. 103.
22. Maine, op. cit., pp. 141 ff.
23. Gastano Mosca, The Ruling Class, ed. and rev. A. Livingston (New York, 1939) p. 480.
24. Ludwig Gumplowicz, The Outlines of Sociology, tr. A. Small (Philadelphia, 1899) p. 165.
25. Henry Pratt Fairchild, Economics for the Millions (New York, 1940) p. 136.
26. Henry Pratt Fairchild, The Foundations of Social Life (New York, 1927) p. 226.