The Foundations of Social Rank and Respect

  • Hans Speier
Part of the Main Trends of the Modern World book series (MTMW)


In order to understand more precisely the claims to rank and social respect advanced by the white-collar workers, it must be emphasized at the outset that Weimar Germany was a capitalist society overlaid with peculiarly German features. In this society a plurality of social valuations based on noble birth, wealth, state office (both civilian and military), education, religious denomination, and “race” competed with one another. Corresponding to these social valuations were different conceptions of domination, different ideals of the order of social ranks, different social distinctions and stigmas, and different styles of life.


Civil Servant Social Rank Religious Denomination Salaried Employee Social Valuation 
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  1. 1.
    H. Speier, “Das Proletariat und seine Kritiker,” Die Neue Rundschau, vol. 43 (1932), p. 295.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    A. L. Schlözer, Theorie der Statistik, (Göttingen, 1804), p. 134. On the transvaluation of social esteem, cf. also H. Speier, “Militarism in the Eighteenth Century,” Social Order and the Risks of War, esp. the sections “Society vs the State” and “The Devaluation of Courage,” (New York, 1952), pp. 241–52.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Cf. M. Weber’s definition of social order, in Economy and Society (New York, Bedminster, 1968), pp. 926–7.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    On the concept of “relative deprivation,” now often used in American sociology, see H. Speier, “Social Stratification,” in M. Ascoli and F. Lehmann, eds., Political and Economic Democracy (New York, 1937), pp. 264–5.Google Scholar

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© Yale University Press 1985

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  • Hans Speier

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