Social classes

Is it fair that the chance of birth gives certain privileges? What about social classes?

I. The questioning of privileges in the 18th century

In the 18th century, Turgot thought, as in his time, that ennoblement should not be linked to the wealth of a bourgeois, but to the services he rendered.
“Let everyone be a son of his works and merits: all justice would be accomplished and the State would be better served” – the Marquis d’Argenson, 1739.

Beaumarchais in The Marriage of Figaro (1778) writes this famous word: “Because you are a great lord, you believe yourself a great genius! … you have taken the trouble to be born, and nothing more. Besides, you are a rather ordinary man” (Act II Scene II)

In France, the night of August 4, 1789 marks the abolition of the privileges.

II. To think the social class

These four visions of social class are not exhaustive, but they will nevertheless provide some useful reference points for a Sciences Po paper.

Karl Marx defines seven social classes in Les luttes de classes en France (1850), of which the two most important are the proletariat and the capitalist bourgeoisie.

According to Vilfredo Pareto (1848 – 1923), social classes are the consequence of an opposition between masses of individuals and governmental elites.

According to Max Weber (1864-1920) classes are not social, nor political, but economic: income and wealth determine classes.

Joseph Schumpeter (1883-1950), following Plato’s line, believes on the contrary that class is linked to the function performed.

General Knowledge: the revolutions

General Knowledge : Justice