Estate society


A class society is a society that is organized in classes. In this sense, we refer to social groups characterized by presenting certain economic, legal, as well as juridical conditions.

The estate society, therefore, is that society organized in blocks formed by individuals with similar qualities. In this sense, social groups that present certain characteristics and, therefore, are grouped together in the same block.

This type of society occurred in the Old Regime, before the French Revolution broke out. Belonging to a certain stratum was acquired from birth, being a closed system and in which social promotions were not frequent. In fact, the transfer to another estate occurred due to some exception that required recognition by the government.

The estamental society, therefore, occurred until the French Revolution throughout Europe. Although there are still estates societies in the present.

The estate society is followed by capitalist society.

Characteristics of the estate society

Among the characteristics of estate society, the following should be highlighted:

  • They were societies in which there was a clear hierarchy.
  • This hierarchy was in the form of a pyramid, classifying the population in social strata.
  • Belonging to a social stratum was a right that was acquired through birth.
  • The stratum to which a person belonged was the one to which they also belonged throughout their entire life.
  • Sometimes, as a result of recognizing feats, social promotions could occur.
  • They were societies in which inequality prevailed.
  • In these societies, only the highest strata had recognized rights.

How is estate society divided?

The estate society, which was hierarchical, was divided into 3 estates.

In this sense, we are talking about 3 estates with a closed system. That is to say, estates without movements between the different social classes.

These estates are:

  • Nobility: They controlled, together with the clergy, all power. They had all the rights and privileges.
  • Clergy: In a certain way, the clergy in the Middle Ages instrumented social behavior. They had a lot of power, and they ruled alongside the rulers.
  • Third estate (peasants, serfs ...): They were the lowest stratum. They had no rights or privileges.

The social structure was in the form of a pyramid, which was divided as follows:

Estamental society in the Middle Ages

The estamental society is the type of society that predominates during the Old Regime, in the Middle Ages. Thus, this type of society lasted until the outbreak of the French Revolution, which gave way to the capitalist system, as well as to new forms of social organization.

This class society was excessively unequal, rights were granted to a privileged few. This type of situation gave rise to a revolution in the 18th century, which would bring important changes such as the seizure of power by the kings, as well as the birth of modern states. With the capitalist system, citizens are no longer classified by their lineage, beginning to carry out this classification based on their capital.

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