Is "class culture" an artificial construct or does it have "natural" motivation?


Is "class culture" an artificial construct or does it have "natural" motivation?

A lof of things, at least judging by internet, are associated or measured relative to socio-economic class. However, while this may have become a "common" measure in e.g. statistical studies, I have come to wonder, whether socio-economic class is a "forced" artificial construct or whether socio-economic class makes "naturalistic" sense?

Loose definitions:

Class culture: cultural habits of people that are related to their socio-economic standing.

Natural motivation: existing without social or political ideas about it, "through (physical) nature". E.g. physical power relationship has natural motivation, since it's "hard natural thing". Whereas the police is a non-natural idea related to e.g. physical power. That is, the police exists after "considering" the use of power "differently". The natural physical power relationship exists "as is".


Posted 2018-12-07T00:34:34.743

Reputation: 2 666

1Where are these terms "class culture" and "natural motivation" coming from? – virmaior – 2018-12-07T01:12:10.300

further how is this answerable in an SE format? – virmaior – 2018-12-07T01:12:18.090

@virmaior What you mean where they come from? Since they're used, then someone has invented them. But I'm questioning, what kind of "backing" or motivation do they have? The concept itself is possibly as old as governments. But I'm looking for a broader view on "why consider class culture, rather than not". Since I see class culture inherently tied to "political rule", rather than "what exists when people are left free" (except for natural sorts of hierarchies of course). – mavavilj – 2018-12-07T01:43:18.347

I even consider "academic" explanations such as Weberian to be somewhat arbitrary, because they don't question the "fundamental reason" for class culture, rather they observe what it looks like. There's certainly also a time-aspect to class culture, since people are born into existing conditions.

– mavavilj – 2018-12-07T01:49:52.730

1I mean quite simply where are you getting the terms from? are you pulling them out of a hat? did you read something? is this question de novo or in dialogue with some philosopher? – virmaior – 2018-12-07T05:59:01.577

@virmaior Whatever is relevant? Relying on particular philosophers would though be perhaps answering in "authoritative" way. Whereas taking some epistemology or e.g. view on history that's naturalistic could explain better, whether the constructs mentioned have "solid backing" to them. Or whether they're artificial social constructs from which it's easy to deviate by simply "de-believing". An answer could e.g. contrast the political-economical motivation for "class structures", but also, whether there's fundamental reason for "class structures". – mavavilj – 2018-12-07T11:59:15.020

@mavavilj There is a good question in there, but this one needs to be edited. – Mark Andrews – 2018-12-11T03:47:28.780



The range of social statuses that arise within an economy might be seen as a naturalistic occurrence. But identification of a given set of people as a 'class' cannot happen naturally, it has to be socially constructed.

Some examples: 'Capitalist' is not well-defined as a class. There is no natural dividing point between people who own only goods and those who own the means of production -- is a needle and thread the means of production, or just household goods?

There is no natural boundary between the working class and the middle class -- at what point does a skill and reputation become a professional credential? A union carpenter is nominally not middle class, but an architect is. Then what happens when a Master carpenter designs houses and his work is vouched for by the union? He is trusted because of his professional credentials.

The class of the landed aristocracy is not even properly bounded, because it automatically includes their children, who may in the end fall out of the class when they do not inherit, but who take part in the same rituals of class culture, in case they might. Meanwhile, capitalists are able to buy titles.

The ritual markers that separate classes -- getting an education, having a Manor, maintaining tools... are symbolic, not real. There are always people who have them and ultimately do not qualify in the class, an those who are firmly within the class and yet do not take part in all of their class's defining markers.


Posted 2018-12-07T00:34:34.743


You need to clarify "class". "set of people as a 'class' cannot happen naturally", what about natural hierarchies (power, charisma, health for example). Class and status are clearly related. But as you seemed to pick up, my question's motivation is directed towards the non-naturally motivated hierarchies.

– mavavilj – 2018-12-07T22:57:10.133

You totally missed the first sentence. None of those natural continua come as hierarchies. Just because some folks are more charismatic than others, or stronger, that does not create levels with central identities. The unnatural part is the threat to be cut off from your identity group if you do not engage in the rituals that prove you qualify, or make you aspire not to just attain what you are capable of, but what carries a given label. – None – 2018-12-07T23:12:38.640

Analogously, the effects of testosterone are natural, the construct of masculinity, which comes with the threat the label of 'man' can be denied to you if you deviate from given norms, is not. – None – 2018-12-07T23:15:50.967

I'm not sure if I follow. I think that if I'm physically stronger, then I'm higher in rank. It makes physics-sense and it's empirically demonstrable. Similarly charisma that appeals to "general trend about charisma" would gain more favor among community, otherwise I don't know if our senses made sense. – mavavilj – 2018-12-07T23:27:53.700

But lots of people in our society who are stronger are not of higher rank, because our classes are constructed on a given set of chosen attributes with different assigned levels, and strength is no longer an important one of them. That does not remove differences in strength, but it makes them not matter. – None – 2018-12-07T23:30:28.233

"not matter"? Wouldn't that depend on whether one wishes to emphasize "natural order" or some gimmick "who has most money" order, where Paris Hilton has more status than Nikola Tesla? It's possible, but it's not particularly intelligent. Nor is physical power only, but I think physical power deserves rank, since it's a "hard thing". I'm not sure however, how "natural" the "who has most money" is. It's possible to become wealthy by doing nothing. – mavavilj – 2018-12-07T23:43:16.813

But a class culture does exactly that. And that is what we are talking about. At least in the US, physical strength only matters in the culture of the lowest social class. In higher classes, it is a form of decoration, but not something that actually gives you a real advantage. Because we assume you will not be carrying things for a living, and you will not have to physically fight anyone. – None – 2018-12-07T23:55:01.027

I am not talking about what ought to be, I am talking about class cultures that actually exist. Have we lost track of the question? – None – 2018-12-07T23:56:40.730

My question is about "real nature" of class culture. Which can be "that which does not exist, but which ought to". – mavavilj – 2018-12-07T23:57:11.840

But you seem to be objecting to the idea that class culture is a thing. – None – 2018-12-07T23:57:52.367

One argument I've heard towards the direction of yours is that "becoming civilized" is natural progression for human communities. That is, that physical strength becomes less important, while other aspects such as intelligence are allowed to flourish, regardless of whether Einstein is muscular or not. – mavavilj – 2018-12-07T23:58:32.390

I find that parts of class culture are arbitrary (because money can be attained through less and more noble means). As well as containing "superficial valuation" such as valuing professions that are socially much less valuable. I want class culture to reflect "actuality", not "invented" or "I think". – mavavilj – 2018-12-07T23:59:24.947

I would argue all of class culture is arbitrary, because it exists for you to transfer your gains onto your children. People manipulate those rules to undercut natural competition. Anything else may be natural competition, but it involves neither cultural contents nor definitions of class. – None – 2018-12-08T00:01:27.620

No we are back to virmaior's question above. We evidently have different definitions of this term, and I am not really addressing your question. – None – 2018-12-08T00:03:22.053