The Emergence of Middle Class

Published 28 Mar 2017

For the longest time, status in the society is determined by the wealth a person was able to acquire and to use. Money has been the significant tool in knowing the place of a person in the society. However, in nineteenth century, another class in the society was developed due to several reasons which highly include economy of the country. There are no enough descriptions and sources about the middle class. Throughout the years, society has been into the rich and the poor, the high and the low but in the nineteenth century of American society, middle class came out and ruled the whole country. In times of recession, middle class emerged as the saving tool of the country from total destruction.

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In nineteenth century, American Society was indeed in good shape going into bad situation. There are divisions in the society and among these divisions was middle class. Although middle class emerged late already compared to other classes, it made a remarkable impact both in the society and in the economy of the country. The development of this class although not that clear in present drove several social history researches in present.
However it is understood that the development of middle class is due to the transformation of classes in the society and because of the changes in occupational structure. Due to these changes in occupational structure, growth of industrial-capitalism soon followed together with rapid urbanization, number of immigrations and the geographic mobility in the United States of America (Archer and Blau, 1993).

The emergence of the middle class in the nineteenth century is something new to the society. Middle class although is not the superior holds a lot of power and saying over the society. They have so many differences to the other classes provided that they are of the same nature and race, mostly immigrants and workers. What mattered at that time for the classes was not entirely the money but how these people choose to spend their money and on where they invested it. Furthermore, they were identified because of their ability to make social connections and how they build social relationships because of their money, their funds and investments (Purcell).

Being part of the middle class requires a lot of things although not that hard to achieve but usually are very naturally. For African-Americans, being middle class is impossible. In the case of the immigrants, especially Irish immigrants, it is kind of hard also to break in into the world of the middle class because in them, nativity is inculcated (Purcell).

Hence, it is well understood that the development of middle class in the American Society of Nineteenth Century is brought of transformations and social changes, including social mobility. Although the latter is really limited, being middle class is easy for native born and the member of the White society.


  • Archer, Melanie and Blau, Judith R. “Class formation in nineteenth-century America: the case of the middle class”. Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 19, 1993
  • Purcell, Sarah J., Ph.D. “The Emerging Middle Class”. Grinnell College.
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