Sociological Study Of The Three Estates In The French Revolution

1584 words - 7 pages

“The influence of the French Revolution upon the foundations of sociology in France is a fact which has received somewhat less than the attention it deserves,” (Nisbet). Mid 1700’s, France was in extreme debt due to past wars and the Three Estates were created that ultimately led up to the rise of the French against their monarchial government. The social tensions between the First, Second, and Third Estates prove that the French Revolution had a political cause and effected social change and those sociological theories are important to understand both the political cause and the social change.
Hierarchical power, prestige, and wealth within the French government were divided into Estate General’s three groups: the First, clergy of the Catholic Church, and the Second Estate, Nobility. The first and second estates were approximately 1% of the French population. The first estate included the bishops and priests, and the second estate included large wealthy landowners. These two groups were set above the Third Estate due to their social status, and is a prime example of sociology’s concept of social stratification. Author of sociology textbook, Nijole V. Benokraitis, “Social stratification is the hierarchical ranking of people in a society who have different access to valued resources, such as property, prestige, power, and status” (Nijole). The government was a part of that prestige social class and was one of the significant reasons for the Estates General and the French Revolution. Because the government was in severe debt, they taxed the poor instead of inflicting taxes on their high social classes, the first and second estate. Thus, creating larger economical troubles to the country because the rich are expecting the poor to pay off their nation’s debt. Son of the creator of Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical company, Jamie Johnson, made a documentary film, regarding the issues of “wealth and issues of social class in America.” The film argues, how the higher social classes create a social and economical gap between themselves and lower classes. Jamie addresses that his family is one of the top 1% of American prestigious families who own 40% of the country’s wealth. An average of the one percent collects $1,000,000 per year while the 90% of average Americans earn $35,000; yet, the rich continue to get rich and the poor remain in poverty (The One Percent). The 1% of modern America compared to the high-power influence of the French Revolution is not different at all. Based on how the populations of social classes were placed in society depended and continues to be built on socioeconomic status – the overall ranking of a person in a society. The French government inflicted social segregation in the same manner sociologist find in today’s social structure. The placement of the social stratification hierarchy had and continues to be heavily influenced by race, ethnicity, family background, education, and wealth. For example, the French’s absolute...

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