The American Class Structure

By Joseph A. Kahl | Go to book overview
X brothers in Middletown build up a great industry and are admired and respected for it. Their sons inherit that industry, and may do nothing but live off the profits. Given our values, such a life is wasted and degenerate. In time people suspect that the sons have no right to all that money. Such a group is resented, and can maintain public respect only if the sons either expand and develop the industry (or become occupationally useful in another sphere), or if they devote their lives to the beneficial use of their money for public good (like John D. Rockefeller, Jr.). Often the wives in public charitable activities attempt to spend a little money while their husbands earn some more.Perhaps the main reason why our free-enterprise society has maintained much of its vitality is that it was founded at just the right time and in just the right place. We started with no landed aristocracy; the continual opening of Western lands prevented its emergence except in the old South. As we industrialized, a triumphant technology and a growing population created an important new industry every few years. The owners of the old ones never became fully entrenched. Indeed, as the sons of so many families who were founded by New England shippers and merchants discovered, if they did not continually reinvest their money in new industries, their fortunes would evaporate. This constant movement west, this constant evolution of basic industry, this constant growth in size--these have made it difficult for the founders of fortunes to pass them on intact for several generations and thereby create an aristocracy that ruled but did not work. Now we have a new type of leader emerging to challenge the owner: the corporation manager. The relations between them will occupy our attention in many of the pages that follow.
REFERENCES
Pitirim Sorokin, Social Mobility ( New York: Harper, 1927), p. 101.
Robert S. Lynd and Helen Merrell Lynd, Middletown ( New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1929), and Middletown in Transition ( New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1937).
Lynd, Middletown, pp. 21-24.
Ibid., pp. 31-32, 73-74.
Ibid., p. 45.
Ibid., pp. 80-81.
Lynd, Middletown in Transition, p. xvii.
Ibid., p. 13.
Ibid., p. 68.

-87-

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The American Class Structure
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Introduction v
  • Preface ix
  • Contents xiii
  • Tables xvii
  • Figures xviii
  • I - The Dimensions of Class 1
  • References 16
  • II - Position and Prestige 19
  • Conclusions 47
  • References 49
  • III - Occupational Prestige and Social Change 53
  • Conclusions 85
  • References 87
  • IV - Income, Wealth, and Style of Life 91
  • Conclusions 119
  • References 122
  • V - The Web of Interaction 127
  • Conclusions 153
  • References 154
  • VI - Class Consciousness and Political Ideology 157
  • Conclusions 180
  • References 181
  • VII - Classes as Ideal Types: Emergent Values 184
  • Conclusions 215
  • References 218
  • VIII - Ethnic and Race Barriers 221
  • Conclusions 247
  • References 248
  • IX - Succession and Mobility: the Occupational Base 251
  • Conclusions 271
  • References 272
  • X - Succession and Mobility: Motivation and Education 276
  • Conclusions 293
  • References 294
  • Index 301
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