Clean and dirty. Whoever conceived of the dichotomy of clean and unclean occupations did a great service to himself and to his descendants if he belonged to the upper classes.

The division of labor often leans heavily upon this theoretical distinction, and the remuneration for the different functions is likely to reflect all the horror that those who are spared the dirty work have of it. Only recently have white-collar employees found themselves paid less than large numbers of workers with grimy hands. In fact, with the growth in the physical sense has dwindled greatly. This change came later than, but is similar to, the rise in prestige of physicians and undertakers. Trade unions in the mechanical trades and the tendency of sons of some respectable families to engage in engineering have both done much to cause a shift in emphasis.

Like the story of slavery, instances of distinctions based on clean and unclean concepts are familiar to every sociologist. Lowie, Landtman, fahlbeck, and Sumner recount them in endless array. 13 The literature in this field refers repeated to "unclean pariahs," "pariah class," "debarred from communion with other people." In these instances the occupation concerned must embrace a social class; those practicing it stand apart socially.

Monopoly of a trade or business. It is one thing for people to choose as they are able between the honorable and dishonorable trades and professions. It is another and more significant matter, from the point of view of social class rigidity, if these functions are completely controlled by certain families or classes. During feudalism the nobles had a practical monopoly of land ownership in agriculture, the industry of that period. The gilds practically owned the traffic in the towns.

Max Weber lays great stress upon the monopoly of spiritual and material goods and chances. He says: 14

Alongside the specific honor of social class (Standesehre), which always rests upon distance and exclusiveness, and alongside honor advantages or privileges (Ehrenvorzügen), as the right to wear certain clothes . . . eat certain food denied to others . . . carry arms . . . there exist all kinds of material monopolies.

The monopolies meant here are such as originate in inheritance and in the choices of workmen are able to make or, conversely, are denied from making. (To repeat: a person's early class position is closely related to his early home environment upon which his occupational function is typically superimposed as a confirmation of an a priori condition of status.)

The instances of class monopoly of occupations and business enterprises are as old as written records and are innumerable. The best example of the influence of monopoly upon social class can be seen around the squares of Augsburg, Nuremburg, and Alt-Frankfurt-am-Main. The homes of a powerful medieval class still stand.

Wealth and property. The aspect of social class having to do with wealth and property was discussed in Chapter I. Here it need only be repeated that there are those who believe property to be the basis of social class position. Property is theft, the source of inequality -- so runs the tale. Expropriate the expropriators and end the curse of snobbery, social inequality, and social classes. Others say wealth is a measure of social status; therefore pay homage to the captains of industry and to the rich men who have made the nation great. In either case, wealth is thought of as the basis of the social class structure.

But it has been shown that social classes are not altogether determined by lists of property holdings.

The outstanding fact is, nevertheless, that property rights and all the ways of their transference have an enormous influence upon social class continuity, day in and day out, to social class rigidity. This does not deny or conflict with the fact that it has sometimes facilitated social mobility.

Next Page


13. See: Robert H. Lowie, Primitive Society (New York, 1925) p. 351, and The Origin of the State (New York, 1927) p. 25. Also Landtman, op. cit., pp. 93 and 96. Also, William Graham Sumner and Albert Galloway Keller, The Science of Society, vol. I (New Haven, 1927) p. 228.
14. Max Weber, Grundriss der Socialökonomik, III Abteilung, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft (Tubingen, 1925) p. 637; translation ours.