Social Psychology

By Daniel Katz; Richard L. Schanck | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIX THE ERA OF SOCIAL CLASSES

The Development of Conscious Social Classes

No fact has so disturbed the modern world as has the development of class consciousness. The problem is, of course, note acute in Europe than in America. In our own country we still read editorials directed against some politician who is said to be intent on stirring antagonism between classes. Sigmund Freud has described the situation in The Future of an Illusion. He says:

If we turn to those restrictions that only apply to certain classes of society, we encounter a state of things which is glaringly obvious and has always been recognized. It is to be expected that the neglected classes will grudge the favoured ones their privileges and that they will do everything in their power to rid themselves of their own surplus of privation. Where this is not possible a lasting measure of discontent will obtain within this culture, and this may lead to dangerous outbreaks. But if a culture has not got beyond the stage in which the satisfaction of one group of its members necessarily involves the suppression of another, perhaps the majority--and this is the case in all modern cultures-- it is intelligible that these suppressed classes should develop an intense hostility to the culture; a culture, whose existence they make possible by their labour, but in whose resources they have too small a share. In such conditions one must not expect to find an internalization of the cultural prohibitions among the suppressed classes; indeed they are not even prepared to acknowledge these prohibitions, intent as they are, on the destruction of the culture itself and perhaps even of the assumptions on which it rests. These classes are so manifestly hostile to culture that on that account the more latent hostility of the better provided social strata has been overlooked. It need not be said that a culture which leaves unsatisfied and drives to rebelliousness so large a number of its members neither has a prospect of continued existence, nor deserves it [pp. 20-21].

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