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  • Betrifft

    middle class/artisan class

    Does anybody know for sure whether the "artisan class" equals the "lower middle class"? Here's the text I'm looking at:

    By the first third of the nineteenth century more than 63 percent of Methodists were classified as artisans, a group which encompasses many well-paid people. About thirteen percent were composed of people in middle class occupations—merchants and manufacturers and the like—and a significant number of them were quite well off.

    Definition of "middle class" according to: http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=middle class

    Middle class, in England, people who have an intermediate position between the aristocracy and the artisan class. It includes professional men, bankers, merchants, and small landed proprietors.

    But surely, the artisan class is not = working class?

    Slightly confuzzled,
    VerfasserDoris L09 Nov. 03, 17:54
    @Doris: ich bin mit den engl. Begriffen leider nicht firm. In Sachen Schichten u. Klassen, gilt aber für die dt. wie für die engl. Begrifflichkeit, dass die einzelnen Bezeichnungen sehr unterschiedlich gehandhabt und definiert werden. Mit dem Begriffsgebrauch in der einen oder anderen Bedeutung schließt man sich so evtntl. unbeabsichtigt der einen oder anderen 'Schule' an und zieht sich den Zorn der anderen zu. Um was für eine Art Text handelt es sich denn und um welche Zeit geht es genau?
    #1Verfassersyl-de09 Nov. 03, 19:41
    @syl-de: Ich suche keine Übersetzung, falls du das so verstanden haben solltest.
    Der Text, in dem ich über die "artisan class" gestolpert bin, behandelt die Rolle des Methodismus im England des 19. Jhrdt. Du findest den Text hier:
    #2VerfasserDoris Leibold 09 Nov. 03, 19:53
    Ist "the artisan class" nicht einfach die (selbständige) Handwerkerschaft? Heute würde man vielleicht sagen: der untere Mittelstand (Kunstschreiner, Optiker, Drucker, Buchbinder, Gold- und Silberschmiede, Tapezierer etc. etc.).
    #3VerfasserMorgan09 Nov. 03, 23:44
    I'm not sure "artisan class" is that common a phrase, so the precise meaning may vary depending on writer and context. But off the top of my head I'd say, sure, artisans could be considered a subset (the top tier) of the working class. Highly skilled as opposed to semi-skilled (factory workers) or unskilled (farm laborers), but still people who work with their hands; who need no formal education beyond the elementary level (though practical apprenticeship might be a defining criterion); who don't wear suits and ties to work; who are paid wages rather than salaries; and so on. As Morgan says, craftsmen: jewelers, clockmakers, tailors (as opposed to seamstresses), silversmiths, furniture makers (as opposed to carpenters).

    In contrast, the middle class would be people whose labor is primarily not physical but mental: doctors, lawyers, writers, business owners. And the lower middle class might be the subset who lack advanced education or professional status and who work for an employer rather than independently: teachers, clerks, salesmen.

    Does that make sense at all?
    #4Verfasserhm -- us10 Nov. 03, 01:14
    Okay, sorry guys. I think I didn't make myself clear but thanks for your help so far. I need to understand "artisan class" in the **following context**:
    By the first third of the nineteenth century more than 63 percent of Methodists were classified as artisans, a group which encompasses many well-paid people. About thirteen percent were composed of people in middle class occupations—merchants and manufacturers and the like—and a significant number of them were quite well off.

    Here it says, "a group which encompasses many well-paid people." This alone I would have interpreted as a characteristic of the middle class. But then the author goes on about people in "middle class occupations", which made up a much smaller percentage which seems odd as "Methodism" was (at least in 19th century Britain) mainly a middle-class religion. I have no reason to question the author though, so I'm wondering ...
    #5VerfasserDoris 10 Nov. 03, 07:50
    Grummel, ich hatte gestern abend noch etwas gepostet, was offenbar dem Nacht-Dämon gut geschmeckt hat...

    Das Problem liegt z.T. darin, dass in dem Text "class" in zwei unterschiedlichen Bedeutungen verwendet wird: 'artisan class' und 'middle class'. Wobei man die artisan class im Deutschen kaum als "Klasse" bezeichnen würde, weil der Gruppe genau das fehlt, was meistens als Kern des Klassenbegriffs verstanden wird: die einheitliche sozio-ökonomische Verortung. Im Gegenteil, der Text betont, dass ein Teil der Leute sehr gut verdient, sozial anerkanntere Berufe ausübt (und sicher gab es auch 'artisans', die kaum über die Runden kamen). Es sieht für mich so aus, als ob der Autor sich quellenmäßig nur auf Berufszuordnungen/statistiken stützt, und dann eine nicht kongruente Klassenrhetorik überstülpt. Ich finde die Argumentation ziemlich verschwommen.
    #6Verfassersyl-de10 Nov. 03, 12:38
    I must not have made myself very clear either. Sorry, let me give it another shot. Yes, IMO your text does appear to assume that artisans are (upper) working-class. No, unlike you, I don't think of artisans as being (lower) middle-class. So it works fine for me.

    >> Middle class, in England, people who have an
    >> intermediate position between the aristocracy
    >> and the artisan class.

    In this sentence, from result #2 of the search you cite, "artisan class" is obviously used to mean "working class." But it's not a well-thought-out technical definition, just a loose paraphrase. (Perhaps even an attempt to avoid the term "working class.") Results #1 & #3, from Amer. Her. & WordNet above & below, gave more precise (and concise) definitions.

    Word to the wise: That #2 section of dictionary.reference.com results was cited as "Webster's Revised Unabridged" with a supposed copyright date of something like 1996. But the entries looked both oddly short and rather dated (discursive) in style, so I checked, and they're actually from Webster's 1913, which is free (not to mention correctly referenced) online elsewhere. It's better than nothing, and sometimes a very useful source especially for odd or archaic words, but still not nearly as comprehensive as a modern unabridged dictionary.

    >> classified as artisans

    I assume you're aware that "class" as in group of similar items, categorization, is much broader and less technical than "class" as in social stratum. Artisans may be a class in the former sense, but IMO they're only a subset of a class (working class) in the latter.
    #7Verfasserhm -- us10 Nov. 03, 17:14
    > ... many well-paid people." This alone I would have
    > interpreted as a characteristic of the middle class.

    You seem to assume that class is defined solely or even largely by income. Again, I'm not at all sure that that's the case, especially in Britain in this period when upper-class status at least was hereditary, and other class distinctions were largely determined by longstanding social custom. (Cf. impoverished aristocrats during tough economic times; difficulty of even the richest merchants in breaking into upper-class society; centuries-old tradition of following father's occupation in lower classes; etc.) Similarly, a plumber these days may make more than a schoolteacher, but the plumber is still blue-collar, the teacher still white-collar.

    Back to the text. I might expect the writer to have a point in mind about how income was slowly rising throughout the 19th century even while traditional class distinctions remained fairly rigid. So that while Methodism continued to look working-class in terms of social status and worship style (and continued to be rejected as such by the more tightly buttoned, higher-class Anglicans, to whom displays of emotion were anathema), it actually increasingly had some features more typical of the growing middle class -- not just financial resources, but also a rather strait-laced focus on moral improvement, and (Schlossberg's broader point) the Romantic bias toward individual experience.

    Back to that sentence: Even though a large (surprisingly so, to me) percentage of Methodists (63%) were artisans (i.e., working-class, albeit upper-), some of them were already being fairly well paid, which was a first step in upward social mobility. (Education was maybe the next, and social acceptance by the target/higher class the last and perhaps hardest.) And even though only a small percentage of Methodists (13%) were middle-class, some of them were very well paid (and therefore well able to support the church). Any better yet?
    #8Verfasserhm -- us10 Nov. 03, 17:15
    But the percentages and referents in that sentence were admittedly a bit unclear. Schlossberg's writing seems somewhat loose, at least in this transcription, e.g.,
    Controversy abound [okay, maybe just a typo]
    Recent scholarship on Wesley's ideas and their influence provide important new knowledge [tsk tsk]

    > "Methodism" was (at least in 19th century Britain)
    > mainly a middle-class religion

    Interesting. If that's the thesis of the book you're reading, I'd be curious to learn why. Again, I'm very far from an expert, but I would have thought that 19th-c. Methodism in Britain was still in transition from being largely working-class to being more (though still not wholly) middle-class. (Whereas American Methodism had been more middle-class from its inception, in keeping with other differences between American and British culture at large.)

    But I'm not a historian, and you certainly don't have to take my word for it. My impressions of 19th-c. Britain admittedly come mostly from fiction, which is often from an upper- or upper-middle-class and/or traditional Anglican POV.

    If you want a wider survey, maybe a few other people here will cast a vote. I would especially be curious to hear whether BE speakers perceive Methodism as more characteristically working- or middle-class, in the 19th c. and/or today.

    I also wonder whether class in German terms is generally more a purely economic distinction than a sociocultural one. If so, that might help explain the difference in our perspectives.

    Anyway, sorry to have run on so, but thanks for sharing your question, it was interesting. (-:
    #9Verfasserhm -- us10 Nov. 03, 17:19
    @hm -- us: sorry for my late response, life is a little hectic at the moment.
    Thanks a lot for your long and well-thought out reply. I have since stumbled across a couple of other sources which clearly indicate that artisans belonged to the working class. I admit that Schlossberg's figures startled me slightly, simply because I had so far been concentrating on the influence of Methodism on 19th century society and I had failed to take into account that it only takes a small number of rich geezers in the right social position to try and shape a large number of working-class Joe Publics. I had automatically equalled "influence" and "large number". Of course the Methodist church counted many working class people among its followers, although the majority of actual *church-goers* were *not* working class. Nevertheless, the Methodists concentrated their efforts largely on the working class to help the working people overcome economic depression by spiritual means as well as encouraging thrift. Does this make sense or am I just waffling?
    #10VerfasserDoris Leibold 12 Nov. 03, 21:06
    Hi, Doris. No big deal, I figured you probably just thought this was getting way too off-topic, which it is. And I'm well aware that most other people have more of a life.

    No, of course you're not waffling, but your perspective may just be different than mine, and/or indeed Schlossberg's than your author's. S's (or rather, Christie's, whoever that is) numbers were indeed striking. Though in fact S's title covers the early 19th c., and those figures were for the first third of it. So so far, that still doesn't disprove my hunch that 19th-c. Meth might have been, rather than a black-or-white achieved state, a period of gradual transition toward a _more_ organized and _more_ middle-class church. Maybe your book concentrates more on a later period?

    Or an earlier? The image of a smallish group of better-off, better-educated leaders basically serving as missionaries to the working class might fit with Wesley/18th-c. The interesting thing to me about the 63% figure (whom I think we have no reason to assume *not* to be "churchgoers," though I'm still a little unclear what all lies behind that distinction), along with the comments about $$ (or rather ££), is that it suggests that it *wasn't* any longer so much a top-down, paternalistic movement, but that a certain self-driving impetus from the lower ranks might have begun to take hold as well. But that may just be my bias toward lay-oriented theology creeping in.
    #11Verfasserhm -- us13 Nov. 03, 00:17
    But since none of this has much to do with language or German, I will apologize to everyone bored to tears by it and promise to stop here. I can be reached at hm + urrill (all one word minus the plus sign) at the all-too-well-known address of a*l Punkt c*m. I usually keep it closed to unknown senders, but I'll leave it open for a day or two just in case anyone wants to take this any further and spare the rest of the list. I would also be mildly curious as to how any other Brits might see Meths then and now in terms of social class; and about which German churches might have had a similar focus on social betterment. And BTW, whether in response to Sandra's tombstone query you ever came across any Meths singing hymns to the side-hole. (-;
    #12Verfasserhm -- us13 Nov. 03, 00:19
    <off topic>

    da sieht man doch mal wieder, dass man viel genauer hinschauen sollte, beim Lesen. Hab ich doch gltt anstatt "middle class/artisan" mittlere Kastration gelesen! :-) An was hab ich denn da wohl gerade gedacht??
    #13VerfasserHkey13 Nov. 03, 11:07
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