This section is from the book "Principles Of Sociology With Educational Applications", by Frederick R. Clow. Also available from Amazon: Principles of sociology with educational applications.
One of the continuous variations which the inspection of statistics of population reveals is the shifting of the balance between the social classes. A change in the proportionate numbers of two classes involves change in their relations one to another. When a class that was once subordinate grows into power, it is likely to be arrogant; though it will probably remedy some old abuses, its ideals on the whole will be unformed; it will be certain to bring some disorganization in the process of developing its own new ideals. The triumph of Jacksonian democracy in 1829 was a good example of this, and the great example just now (1918) is found in Russia. On the other hand, when a ruling class is forced, through relative decline of numbers or for any other reason, into a subordinate place, say in politics or industry, it is likely to be exclusive, cynical, conservative, inclined to formalism, clinging tenaciously to whatever hold it can retain on the finer kinds of power, such as education, religion, leadership in art or science, or even precedence in fashionable society. This was illustrated in Virginia, New York, and Massachusetts after the Revolution. It is illustrated to-day in the old Yankee stock in New England and in other regions where there has been a large influx of new immigrants. Does some foreign nationality, hitherto known only in the humbler walks of life, show an increased proportion of its children in higher educational institutions? Then it will be grasping after leadership in the next generation, giving a new viewpoint to our education, religion, politics, industry, and what not.
The shares of the respective classes in the social income of a country are continually shifting. The falling prices from 1873 to 1896 put an unexpected burden on such debtor classes as the farmers of the newly opened West, leading them to organize for their own protection; on the other hand, it gave unexpected purchasing power to the recipients of interest and other fixed incomes who lived chiefly in the East, thus establishing among them a standard of luxury never before known, with the many subtle forms of influence which that brings. Since 1896 these tendencies have been reversed. The new standards of luxury have been set by those who have exploited the durable forms of property - lands, mines, forests, water powers and water fronts, favorably located factories, railroads, and the like. At the same time the increase in the number of those who depend on their wages for a living, combined with the exhaustion of free land, has brought labor problems to the fore.
. . . Thus the commercial regions become critical and progressive, while the rural parts cherish old dynastic loyalties. The town artisans become free-thinking, but the peasants remain devout. As cities grow big, we see more of an urban type having little in common with the farming population. Mining the precious metals fosters a restless, speculative spirit that goes ill with the home-loving conservative bred by agriculture. Machine industry gathers multitudes into its tentacular grasp and sets its stamp upon them. Mixing of bloods brings race war nearer by multiplying the number of aspiring mulattoes and near-whites to whom the rigid color line is intolerable. - American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 23, pp. 352, 353, Ross, "Estrangement in Society."
The dwindling or disappearance of the middle class, leaving the people in two camps, poor and rich, is therefore an ill omen. On the one hand is a nobility of wealth that, having rid itself of every useful service to society, has given itself up to luxurious enjoyment; on the other, a rough, uncouth, unbridled, and irresponsible peasantry or populace - and no broad bridges leading from the one to the other. Neither camp feels that the other is a part of "us." Each feels that its interests will be sacrificed if the other gets the upper hand, and will therefore go to any length to gain and to keep power. ... - American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 23, p. 631, Ross, "Social Decadence."
Many examples occur to me as I look back over the twenty years of my connection with one normal school. The proportion of teachers who have college degrees of one kind or another is larger. The proportion of well-to-do students who have money enough to pay their way is larger, leaving a smaller proportion who work to pay their expenses. Fewer students board themselves, notwithstanding the improvement in facilities for light housekeeping of which the teachers now avail themselves more largely. The students who never graduated from a high school, formerly in the majority, have decreased in numbers to such an extent that the elementary course provided for them has been abolished.
In 1911 an arrangement was effected between the State University and the normal schools whereby the normal schools give the first two years of university work. This increased the proportion of our students who look forward to law, medicine, business, or engineering, and also of those who look forward to nothing in particular except having a good time.
In addition there has been established in each normal school some special department. The department at our school is the industrial, to prepare teachers of manual training. The fifty boys in this department soon made us aware that the motile type of student, which we had known of old, had received a large reenforcement in numbers. The teachers of language had to readjust their work. But a year soon came when we won the state championship in both basket ball and football.