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Statuses on the Move

Convergence towards the Middle Ranks

Savage and colleagues (2015, 168-81) have developed a new model of social class using a method they call ‘latent class analysis’, which is an application of Bourdieu’s theory of the three types of capital—economic, social and cultural—as determinants of class. The seven-fold class schema they construct on this basis has just two distinctly differentiated classes— the uppermost class, or the elite, and the lowest class, or the precariat— which score the highest and the lowest on most measures of the three types of capital. The five classes in the middle of the spectrum are a much more complicated mix and do not form such a neat pattern: they are the established middle class, the technical middle class, the new affluent working class, the traditional working class and the class of emerging service workers. These five classes seem to present a problem for the enquiry into social mobility.

A similar problem appears in Goldthorpe’s (1980, 42) study on social mobility. He remarks that his class schema should not be seen as having a consistently hierarchical form, except in the case of Classes I and II. It is legitimate to talk about upward mobility only in the case of movement into © The Author(s) 2017

R. Jallinoja, Families, Status and Dynasties,

DOI 10.1057/978-1-137-58073-3_7

Classes I and II, and conversely of downward mobility only in the case of movement out of Classes I and II. Moreover, Goldthorpe discovered that the intergenerational continuity of class position was most evident within Class I, on the one hand, and within Classes VI and VII, on the other, and that relatively high rates of work-life mobility in the middling classes were often of a ‘disorderly’ kind (Goldthorpe, 1980, 150). Even though these two treatises have very different definitions of class position, their outcomes are surprisingly similar. At the top of the social ladder is a relatively small elite or Class I, and at the bottom the precariat or Classes VI and VII. In between, there is a huge mass of middling classes (II-V) with no clear indication of their being distinct classes. In the following I take yet another approach to examining the movement from different statuses towards new ranks in the twentieth century by using the social genealogies included in my data set. Furthermore, in the last section, I explore another way of keeping statuses on the move, namely, upgrading at one bound to the highest rank. Here, politicians serve as my main example.

It is at this phase of my research that I finally assemble together the status hierarchies I have so far been elaborating separately: the royal, noble and entrepreneurial dynasties as well as the families of clerics, professors and artists. Lower-ranking social segments were only included in the cavalcade of status hierarchies when I began to explore the noble and clerical lines that had seen their standing decline. Below I discuss in more detail how noble dynasties and the old clerical families as well as their declining branches adjusted to the twentieth-century social landscape, where the only distinctive classes were those at the top and those at the bottom, as described by Goldthorpe and Savage, while in between a huge mass of people were not firmly attached to any class. To the original range of social segments I now add two further groups of families, namely, worker families and tenant-worker families, whose social genealogies we have so far not examined in this book. These two types of family are closely similar to each other in terms of status, but on the other hand they differ from each other historically. Worker families became involved in industrial work from very early on, whereas tenant-worker families embarked on industrial work later, after a century-long period of landlessness, during which time family members engaged in agricultural work as tenants, crofters and farmhands.

Based on this compilation of status hierarchies my intention here is to outline the new trends that first began to unfold in the late nineteenth century but that gathered strong momentum in the course of the twentieth century. One of these trends was the process of increasing convergence: people from different directions entered the same social arena, where occupations were reorganized into new status hierarchies, not from scratch but with due regard for the social burden that these people had inherited from past generations. I start with the highest echelons: descendants of the nobility and old clerical families who began to move out of their traditional occupations and into new ones by the late nineteenth or early twentieth century. The nobility is treated here as a single entity— which is well justified given the constant divergence between the low and the high nobility—but any significant status differences seen in the nobility will be taken into account. By old clerical families I mean families where the priesthood was passed down in the family for several successive generations before the twentieth century.

The reader might remember that both tiers of the nobility were divided into two: those who practised their traditional occupations—they were mainly senators, governors, officers or courtiers—and those who abandoned these occupations and embarked on other ones. In the nineteenth century half of higher noblemen and one-quarter of lower noblemen made these choices following the nobility’s traditions, though most of them were officers. At this time the proportion of learned professionals was a mere 16 per cent among higher noblemen and 26 per cent among lower noblemen. But these figures increased sharply in the twentieth century, to 45 per cent for all noblemen born in 1900-70. They were medical doctors, lawyers, economists, foresters, civil engineers, architects and Masters of Arts or Science. In the Swedish nobility this social segment began to grow earlier in the nineteenth century, a shift that Elmroth (2001, 237) describes as a movement from the upper class to the middle class. The old civil and military service nobility was thus transformed into a class of professionals, or better to say, integrated into the growing aggregate of professionals, whose status greatly depended on level of education. However, it was not only noblemen who clustered in the group of learned professionals. Equally noteworthy entrants were the descendants of old clerical families who, much in the same vein as the nobility, were withdrawing from their traditional occupations. In my sample of six old clerical families, 38 per cent of the male descendants became learned professionals between the 1930s and the late twentieth century, but when the figure for clergymen (5 per cent) is also included, the total rises to 43 per cent, in other words, to approximately the same share as in the nobility.

In addition to learned professionals, noblemen were in demand as general managers or CEOs of large industrial establishments. From the 1930s to the late twentieth century, 10 per cent of noblemen were appointed general managers, whereas among the male descendants of old clerical families the figure was only 3 per cent. At the next highest level of administration, that of department heads, male descendants of old clerical families appeared in larger numbers (11 per cent) than noblemen (6 per cent). If learned professionals and general managers are categorized in Goldthorpe’s Class I, then 55 per cent of employed noblemen and 46 per cent of the male descendants of old clerical families belonged to Class I—both figures that are much higher than in the male population as a whole, even in today’s situation (see Erola and Moisio 2007, 173-4). If department heads are also placed in Class I, then the figures are even higher, 61 and 57 per cent, respectively.

Following Goldthorpe’s class schema in broad outline, the next social segment would be Class II, consisting of lower-grade professionals, that is, those who completed their degree at college or polytechnic—a BA-level degree. This distinction is no longer made in all European countries, including the United Kingdom (Savage 2015, 233), but in Finland it is still applied. I would be inclined to maintain the distinction between the college and university systems, for historical reasons: colleges and polytechnics were in Finland inferior to universities in the nineteenth century. This divide has tended to persist even though it would not be any more officially applied. According to this divide, then, the proportion of lower-grade professionals was 14 per cent in the nobility and 13 per cent among the male descendants of old clerical families. They were typically graduates of business colleges or technical institutes. Male descendants of noble and clerical families thus preferred academic professions over lower-grade professions.

Women’s employment profile differs somewhat from men’s. First, information on women’s occupations is missing much more often than on men’s, particularly in the early twentieth century. If we consider the whole period from the 1930s onwards, there are no records of occupation for 30 per cent of noblewomen and for 17 per cent of the female descendants of old clerical families, most probably indicating that these women were not employed. If this is true, then women from old clerical families entered the labour market often and in fact earlier than women from noble families. But when they were employed, their occupational profiles were fairly similar. Around one-third or 37 per cent of noblewomen and 32 per cent of the female descendants of old clerical families were learned professionals, but virtually no noblewomen or female descendants of old clerical families were general directors. Very few women even reached the position of department head, although since the 1970s their proportion has increased.

Large numbers of noblewomen and female descendants of old clerical families also became lower-grade professionals, as defined above: their proportions were 30 and 35 per cent, respectively. They were typically elementary school teachers and nurses, but also business college graduates. Moreover, women worked as clerks in banks and offices much more often than their brothers, accounting for 14 and 12 per cent in these two female groups, respectively. Women were thus more prepared to move into lower-grade professions than men. There is still one further occupation that calls for our attention, namely, artists: quite a large proportion, 8 per cent of noblewomen and 6 per cent of the female descendants of old clerical families were artists: pianists and piano teachers, painters, graphic artists and singers. Summing up, almost 90 per cent of noblewomen and 85 per cent of the female descendants of old clerical families were professionals of different ranks.

The spread of occupations held by nobles and descendants of old clerical families from the 1930s onwards is quite different from that in the nineteenth century. But how to evaluate this difference? Does moving from the highest level of civil service and the army to the group of learned professionals imply social decline from the upper class to the middle class, as Elmroth characterizes the change? Goldthorpe and Hope’s (1974, 96-7) book on the social grading of occupations provides a good enough basis to reflect upon this question. The highest scores are recorded for self-employed professionals such as doctors and lawyers as well as senior civil servants and even salaried professionals. These three occupations are also included in Class I in Goldthorpe’s (1980) other study. In this light, the move from the nobility’s traditional occupations to academic professions and business management was consistent with the nobility’s earlier status and, furthermore, kept the nobility in the highest rank. For clerics, the move from the priesthood to a non-clerical learned professional career was in fact not a transfer from one class to another, since priests had been learned professionals all along. Thus, their descendants who moved from theology to study secular disciplines actually maintained their forefathers’ occupational status.

If for most noblemen and descendants of old clerical families the passage from their long-established high-ranking position to a new one was simple and short, for other noble and clerical families the journey was much harder and longer. This was because of their social decline that started in the eighteenth century and that relegated them to the rank of tenants, crofters and farmhands. For this reason they deserve to be examined separately and together with those families who originally came from this rank—as far as that origin can be ascertained. The noble Jarnefelts and the clerical Wegeliuses are again the two families who provide the tools with which to examine status changes, this time the long journey from lower ranks back to higher ranks. In the nineteenth century most of the descendants of these two families were tenants, crofters or farmhands in several branches faced with social decline. At the beginning of the twentieth century they gave way to workers, electricians, chauffeurs and bricklayers, as if they were the natural successors of tenants, crofters and farmhands. The glass ceiling was not broken until the 1960s in the Jarnefelt family, when the first professionals in these declined branches emerged in some individual families. Thus, these recoveries took place at around the same time as farmers’ and workers’ children gained a firm foothold in the professoriate. In the Wegelius family, the branches that declined socially produced no learned professionals, a very different profile from that in more successful branches. This outcome may be explained by their unfortunate fate: many sub-branches died out.

The social genealogies of three other families shed some further light on the upward movement to the rank of learned professionals. The first case, the Palmlof family (unpublished pedigree of the Palmlof family), was characteristically a worker family in several successive generations. This was by no means very common in Finland. In Tampere, for instance, often called the ‘Manchester’ of Finland, 12 per cent of female workers’ fathers were workers in 1850 and 1870; the corresponding proportion for male workers’ fathers was 19 per cent (Haapala 1986, 44, 97). The Palmlof pedigree begins with Jacob, probably born in the 1760s. He worked in a paper mill and had 12 children, eight of whom died in early infancy. The fate of one daughter is unknown; two daughters married accordingly, an usher and a turner; and the only surviving son started out as a farmhand but then moved to work in a paper mill, where he was eventually upgraded to the position of master. Two of his surviving sons were workers, both of them in a paper mill. The eldest daughter remained unmarried, but bore an out-of-wedlock child in 1853 and was fined for fornication. Later on she moved to a small town to earn her living as a servant, but here she was fined for drunkenness. The youngest daughter worked in a paper mill. The sons continued to work in paper mills in the fourth and fifth generations. Moreover, in the fifth generation, the number of family members working in the factory increased further when two unmarried daughters moved to work in the factory as clerks. It was customary that the whole family, if employed, worked in the same factory.

The fifth generation was important in another way, too. The eldest daughter, Anna (1884-1964), was a teacher and writer engaged in literary pursuits, as was quite common in the working class at the time. More and more workers, many of whom had no formal education, were now beginning to educate themselves by reading books and attending courses of lectures (Hentila 2013, 49-51). These self-educated men and women became an important part of a historical shift in which education emerged as a vehicle of progress and social rise. This new trend is perhaps best exemplified by Mauno (1887-1944) in the fifth generation: he schooled himself to become a technician, which guaranteed him a higher status among workers. Considerable numbers of workers eventually turned into professionals, helping them to move up one notch in the rankings— but still within the working class. Mauno was also closely involved in founding a local trade union association and so was instrumental in creating and trailblazing another future change in this rank: the growth of class consciousness. The only son in the sixth generation also worked as a schooled paper technician, as did his eldest son in the seventh generation, but two other sons broke with the family tradition: the second son was an engineer and a teacher at a vocational school, while the youngest son was the first in the family to matriculate at university and, besides, to earn a doctorate. He eventually became a university lecturer in the 1990s.

To have paper mill workers in seven generations from the advent of the nineteenth century to the late twentieth century is quite an achievement in a country that industrialized as late as Finland did. Even though worker positions were passed down in successive generations, this did not lead to the creation of dynasties in the sense that we understand them, that is, the powerful families intended by the original Greek term of dyn- asteia. Yet in the Palmlof family (Pulma 2012) there was a definite sense of ‘silent pride’ in the family’s long line of paper mill workers, the same kind of pride that genuine dynasties took in their long lineages in power. It was particularly important for the family members that they were not ‘bound to the soil’, but lived in industrial towns and thus were ‘urban’. Moreover, the forefathers gained a training in technical skills and on this strength received appointments to the foreman level, which gave them more prestige. But these elevations were not enough to promote them from the working class, as happened in the late twentieth century with the appearance of the first learned professional in the family. As is evident from the oft-asked question as to who was the first university student in the family, university education was and still is a significant watershed on the road to higher ranks.

The Palmlofs were a genuine worker family, but workers were also recruited into factories from other types of families, those that more closely resembled the socially declined branches of the Jarnefelt and Wegelius families. These families were in fact more numerous than those with long lines of workers. In 1850 in Tampere, for example, 80 per cent of female workers’ fathers were crofters, agricultural workers or craftsmen; the corresponding proportion for male workers was 67 per cent (Haapala 1986, 44, 97). The two cases I have selected for more detailed analysis are the Strands (unpublished pedigree of the Strand family, a pseudonym) from a rural municipality in the vicinity of Helsinki, and the family I shall call the Perttula, though it includes several branches with different names (Knuutila 2000). They lived in another community in the south of Finland. Large masses of rural families in Finland took the same journey that they did from the lower to the higher ranks. The forefather of the Strand family—the first man mentioned in the pedigree—was Jonas (1744-74), who was a soldier. His descendants in three generations were craftsmen, mainly tailors and shoemakers, but from the fourth generation onwards, with the exception of just one branch that continued the peasant line once established, they were farmhands, crofters, servants and shoemakers.

The Perttula family started out differently, but they were soon in the same situation as the Strand family. The ancestor of the Perttula family was a rusthall peasant, the highest peasantry rank, who married a woman of the same rank. This family had no sons at all, only daughters. The second daughter married a landholder, a good foundation for a peasant line—and indeed the sons and grandsons in this family became farmers. However, the other daughters did not marry that well: they married tenants, whose sons became tenants or farmhands, a typical avenue to social decline for daughters. This social decline began in the early nineteenth century. So, together with one peasant line, the increasing number of tenants, crofters and farmhands meant that this family followed a similar path as a plethora of other rural families in the nineteenth century (Hakkinen 2013, 35).

All four families, the Strands and the Perttulas as well as the declined branches of the Jarnefelt and the Wegelius families, had a similar status in the nineteenth century, irrespective of their social origin: generations of tenants, crofters and farmhands followed one another throughout the nineteenth century. The first workers in these families began to appear around the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth century, and most of them were sons of tenants, crofters and farmhands. At the same time, however, the range of occupations in which they were engaged began to expand to those of technician, mechanic, small-scale entrepreneur, driver, warder and foreman. The first technicians appeared in the Palmlof family at the same time, suggesting that schooling was also an important asset for workers from tenant and crofter backgrounds as they sought to move upwards in status within the working class. In the Strand and Perttula families, 26 per cent of the men continued as farmers; for the most part they clustered around the same families in successive generations.

Approximately one-quarter were workers (workers, drivers and storemen); 10 per cent were technicians, one notch upward; 7 per cent were small businessmen; and 5 per cent either department heads or directors. Women in these two families were seldom categorized as workers (4 per cent); more typically they were clerks (23 per cent), assistant nurses (17 per cent) or shop assistants (10 per cent). Workers were almost conspicuous by their absence in the nobility in the twentieth century (2 per cent), but among male descendants of old clerical families they accounted for 10 per cent.

The first learned professionals appeared in the Strand family in the 1940s. They were a dentist and an economist. Entry into an academic profession was a decisive step in this family, as it was in the clerical family we have surveyed earlier in this book: after the first two priests in the family, their descendants in several generations enrolled at university to become ordained priests. In the same way, the first academics in tenant- worker families paved the way for their descendants to go to university. In another branch of the Strand family, the first academic was qualified as a veterinarian in the 1940s, and he too paved the way for his children to become academic professionals: his daughter is a professor and son a journalist with an academic degree. In the Perttula family, the first learned professionals appeared in the 1960s, and in the same vein as in the Strand family, the only professor was a learned professional’s child. Even though some parvenu academic professionals’ children in these two families embarked on academic professions, their proportions eventually remained very small. All in all, 8 per cent of the male members in these two families were learned professionals in the twentieth century, clearly less than in noble families (45 per cent) and among male descendants of old clerical families (43 per cent) at the same time. The proportion of women who became academic professionals in the two tenant-worker families was 6 per cent. This share was much smaller than for noblewomen (37 per cent) and female descendants of old clerical families (32 per cent).

An equally significant difference is that descendants of tenant-worker families began to embark on learned professions some 100 years later than descendants of noble and old clerical families, who were already making this move during the nineteenth century. These differences are great indeed, showing that a prominent family background was an excellent asset even in the altered circumstances. Just as importantly, though, it was possible to break away from a long line of inherited low status positions. But interestingly enough, once a higher status was achieved, that position tended to remain in the family from generation to generation. The tendency to heredity also persisted in families of lower-grade professionals, accounting for 13 per cent among the men and 24 per cent among the women in these two families. A great many of their descendants became lower-grade professionals, although in some families this occupation served as a stepping stone to the higher ranks of learned professionals.

 
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