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ComicMonster
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ComicMonster

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PostSubject: compression of classes   compression of classes EmptyFri 13 Dec 2019, 09:11

Hello everyone!
I've found a concept in what I would call political sociology that I am unable to figure out properly. It's "compression of classes".
I know that "compressed modernity" is the reduction of the time interval needed for a given society to develop industrially, economically, etc. So here time is "compressed".
But my context is about Benjamin Franklin natalism, ie, his theory that children are the riches of a nation and that the expansion to the American West, by mid-eighteenth century, would create a happy population, due to opportunities, that will naturally tend to breed. This territorial dispersion is a factor that "compresses the classes" (?).

This is the original text:


"The most startling feature of his theory was that the class content- ment he described could be achieved through natural means, or, to put it more bluntly, by letting nature take its course. The British Empire, with its well-trained ground forces and powerful navy, secured the territory. From that moment forward, the unoccupied land was the lure for settlers much like the molasses pot for the ants. In a land of opportunity, procre- ating came more naturally, as families felt happy and secure. Rigid class distinctions and the hoarding of resources were less likely to take place. The compression of classes persisted as long as new land was acquired in which people could spread and settle. Industry, frugality, and fertility were the natural outgrowth of a happy mediocrity."
 

I just need a definition (I can't find anything sensible apart from compression stockings for varicose veins and other beauties…) to understand what is that about and then find a proper translation (or explanation on a note if the loan translation "compresión de clases" is unavoidable (wich I think improbable, since there are not references to that out there neither…).

Thanks a lot for your help.

Best wishes,

CM
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nordmann
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nordmann

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PostSubject: Re: compression of classes   compression of classes EmptyFri 13 Dec 2019, 09:28

Hi CM

He meant "compression" as in removing the "distances" between the various social classes in this Brave New World of his.

He was as mistaken in this as he was in calling the land "unoccupied" (Native Americans didn't qulaify as full human beings in his eyes) - the better land still went to those with most wealth and these then lost no time in consolidating this property into disproportionate private fortunes and the power that went with it, and the emergence of new urban and semi-urban conurbations encouraged the growth of a particularly poverty stricken "underclass" whose labour underpinned the nascent colonial economies. The rate of immigration to these new areas out-stripped the birth rate, and the larger the town the more this was true, which in turn put paid to his naive vision of "happy classless settlers" procreating all over the place and enjoying the fruits of a classless society.
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ComicMonster
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PostSubject: Re: compression of classes   compression of classes EmptyFri 13 Dec 2019, 09:50

I see; so here is space the compressed stuff, not time.
And of course, I totally agree. We will have to wait till the sixties/seventies of the twentieth century to learn to decentralize (just a bit) some the Western ideas of superiority (better brain, better culture, better civilization, better religion, better knowledge…), be it in the two Americas, Europe, Africa, Australia…, and we came a long way also, from Darwin "kick" or greek "barbarians" if you prefer.

Thanks for your explanation, nordmann Smile
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: compression of classes   compression of classes EmptyFri 13 Dec 2019, 13:13

Sorry, CM, I think I was a bit vague with "distances". I didn't mean to imply physical space between the classes.

I'm assuming he was talking about wealth, habits, speech, social interaction, and all the other stuff that people tend to use to determine whether one is working class, middle class, upper class, and so on. Franklin and a few other "enlightened" colonials reckoned that egalitarianism would naturally emerge from the exercise (as long as one wasn't Native American or African), hence the "compression" that the book's author has used to describe this erosion of class boundaries.

I'm guessing it's an American author (though not as well read as Franklin himself unfortunately) ... Smile
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ComicMonster
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PostSubject: Re: compression of classes   compression of classes EmptyFri 13 Dec 2019, 14:06

Yes, that's what I had in mind. It was probably me being vague in this case, because I understood "space" in the sense you are pointing at. In fact, it could not have been a reduction of physical distance, since at that time Franklin had in mind the expansion of the "frontier" to the inmensities of the "Wild West" and Canada, that would have to be populated.
It's anyway very kind that you clarificated it. The author of the book is Nancy Isenberg, an American professor of History.

Take care, Smile

CM
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