Aristocracy

In about 2 paragraphs.

Historically,as we have been noting, a key aspect of civilization is greater socialstratification, even the categorization of people. At the top is theruler, at the bottom are the masses, and in between is the (literally, “rule by the best”),that is, the societal elite. Relatively absent from our sources are thevoices of the masses, including women, who are often accorded a lowerstatus in comparison to men.

Manywithin our own US society can be at times enamored with European (e.g., British royal weddings, Princess Grace of Monaco);indeed, both the attraction and the rejection of elite status are partof US history. Many today see the US as supporting a meritocracy rather than an   (meritocracy = rule and placement based on education and examination).

[Please read through the accompanying PowerPointslides before answering the Discussion Board questions. The slidesbriefly cover Western notions of , helping to give a contextfor a modern Western response.]

In your summary, note the following:

Whatis the relationship between the ruler and the (e.g., inChina, in Japan), and how does this play out historically? What is therole of land-ownership (i.e., wealth and access to food production)?What part does the Confucian civil service examination play in theconcept of “”?

Be sure to cite at least two passages from the PowerPoint presentations and/or the textbook to support your summary.

In your reflection, consider the following:

Isit important to have higher social strata composed of “the best”? Ifso, what kind of individuals should comprise “the best”? How can such anarrangement secure human freedom, dignity, and opportunity (access toresources), or does it secure anything of this nature, or are theseconcerns merely secondary to proper rule? Does the US still have an?

Additional note concerning the Discussion Board topic:

Anotherreason to explore the centralized power vs. local power issue, that is,centralized state power vs. the power of landed /nobility,is that a recent major study is indicating that social mobility,that is, the ability of an individual to increase social status (andlikely income and living conditions) is quite difficult (even in our ownday, and, somewhat ironically, the US is more difficult than the UK).The /social elite tends to stay at an elevated social status,enjoying greater leisure and comfort (and sometimesgovernment-supported benefits), while the rest of the society tends toremain at or below the income/status level of preceding familygenerations. One is, in a real sense, locked-in.

In the days leading up to the American Revolution, people like Thomas Paine saw this issue. In the additional PowerPointis Paine’s view. One of the most interesting occurrences after theAmerican Revolution is that the abbreviation “gent.” (gentleman)disappears from names, for example, in county lists (if studying GeorgeWashington, this change is quite apparent).

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