Social Question

DaphneT's avatar

How did class systems evolve?

Asked by DaphneT (5635 points ) February 20th, 2012

What makes a class system a superior sort of social organization? Do all cultures have class systems? How do we know? What cultures stand out as making the best use of class systems?

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10 Answers

anartist's avatar

Evolves out of an economy of surplus. Allows for differentiation of labor, amassing of wealth, for starters. And most likely wealth brings power, u.s.w.
No culture makes a good use of a class system. And destroying a class system as with the Russian Revolution[s] just creates another in its stead. A class system is just an inevitability to be lived with.

auhsojsa's avatar

Class systems in America are dedicated to get you a snippet of general education. By putting everyone in the same pot, you get mixed flavors. It’s just a basic step of a harmonious society. If you get a hard working class system, you get a hard working, working force.

ScurvyChamp's avatar

A class system arises innocently through inequality: for instance some people with more fertile farmland becoming lords and recruiting those from barren places to work their land for them: Meaning hte lords can take the majority of the benefits from the land without ever lifting a finger to work it.

Obviously this is inequal and to to a large extent unfair! However, the people who benefit from it are the people who have the power, and so it is exaggerated and extended.

anartist's avatar

@ScurvyChamp good point. Inequality exists. Silly to pretend it doesn’t.

All kinds of inequality, from good land to good genes to good luck. And if an advantage is capitalized on the disparity increases and lasts long enough to become an inheritance.

Thus the rich get richer and the poor get poorer unless a piece of inequality falls their way [luck, brains, whathaveyou] and they too capitalize on it. And enter a more privileged class.

Likewise advantages can be wasted or unlucky circumstances can reduce the circumstances of members of a privileged class until they and/or their descendants are no longer part of that class.

wundayatta's avatar

It comes from our genes. We have evolved to seek status. Status gives us an evolutionary advantage. Everyone prefers to mate with high-status individuals, whatever makes them high status. Thus people seek an advantage over others using whatever will give them that advantage—mostly stuff, these days, but also intelligence and creativity and strength all work as sources of status, at least for men. Women get an advantage from beauty, but also intelligence and creativity and other capabilities.

Over time, people seek these advantages, and then they try to keep them. They try to pass them on to their progeny. People build organizations to keep the status advantage.

Ironically, one organization that builds status very well, officially does not use that status for an evolutionary advantage. The Catholic Church forbids its officials from entering into reproductive relationships. Of course, they happen anyway, but officially, it’s a no-no. What this does, however, is it allows the Church to accumulate wealth and status and power and keep it through the centuries. It is never lost due to inheritance issues.

In any case, as long as humans are human, there will be a hierarchy and a class system. People will always compete for an advantage, either in reproduction, or in power or other ways of measuring status.

Dutchess_III's avatar

All higher animals have a class system of sorts. The stronger over the weaker.

auhsojsa's avatar

Are you talking school wise? Or scientifically? Or socially? Because money rules school and social wise, while scientifically taxonomy is just designed to separate things in order, and organizational method if you will.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] This is our Question of the Day!

DaphneT's avatar

@auhsojsa, definitely not thinking school wise, but that is an example of a class system, just one imposed. Scientifically speaking could be argued, it is certainly a way to discuss social class systems in clinical or technical terms. It rather begs the chicken and egg, did the scientific use of classification arise on its own or as a result of the social structure? The classic scientist skews the experiment by very existence. Did I spell existence correctly, it doesn’t look right?

mattbrowne's avatar

With the advent of feudalism.

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