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Class Exogamy
Posted: Posted December 16th, 2018 by chiarizio

What do other CWBB board members think of “class exogamy” as a feature of consocieties?

This O.P. has some parts that might apply to any conworld or conculture.

If you want to, talk about those, instead of the parts that are more about conpeoples similar to my own imaginary societies.

I’m thinking part of my conworlds’ attempts to slow the growth of economic inequality, might be “class exogamy” —— an additional rule about marriage.

So far, my first approximation is this;
People in the richest half of the population must choose their spouses from the poorest half; people from the poorest half of the population must choose their spouses from the richest half.
(Possibly, also, people from the middle third must choose their spouses from one of the other thirds?)

Also, a person’s second spouse must be from a different economic quartile of the population than their first spouse.

———

I have not yet worked out whether this is possible, or stable, or would have unwanted side-effects. (That is, side-effects I don’t want in my Conworlds.)

It may be necessary to use the spouses’ parents’ classes, rather than the spouses’ own classes —— for an instance of a possible technical complication to feasibility.

How could I make it apply equally to both brides and grooms? I don’t want to have to apply it to just one sex.
If I have to use the maiden-or-bachelor’s parents’ economic class, rather than the younger betrothed’s own class, can I use both their parents’ classes? If so how? I’d want it to be something even-handed. It wouldn’t be a problem in cases where both their parents belong to the same class; but how safe would it be to just assume that would probably be so?

I’m thinking that a person seeking a second spouse will usually have their own class, and not be dependent on one or both of their parents. But in my Conworlds, one is usually (and ideally) one’s first spouse’s second spouse, and one’s second spouse’s first spouse. So normally if one of the betrothed couple is too new to economic independence to have a clearly established class, the other one does have a credit rating or FICO score or whatever my conworlds’ equivalent is.
But because premature death does happen, and divorce does happen, and so on, what’s ideal and usual and normal may sometimes not be what’s actual. So I’ll need to figure out what to do in those cases.

———

I expect I could use some help, if anyone thinks they can give me help. I imagine I could probably eventually work it out myself, given unlimited time to do so. But I might be wrong; I still don’t have my conlangs’ neography worked out or even well-begun, and I didn’t expect to be so stuck for so long. This might be like that, though I hope not.


There are 8 Replies

What do other CWBB board members think of “class exogamy” as a feature of consocieties?


Well, this is an interesting feature of a culture!

Off hand, this seems to be a really good deal for the poorer classes of people. At the very worst, a child might be married up into a lower middle class / small merchant family. Better than living in a slum, they might think! And of course, she might end up marrying into the stratospherically wealthy upper crusts of society. How nice would that be!

A good deal also, I presume, because there must be some kind of proportionate spouse-price that goes into this deal? If a super wealthy nobleman takes a bride from a middle class family, maybe he has only to pay three talents of silver for her; but if he takes one from the lowest class, he has to pay six talents kind of thing? Or maybe half the family and half to the neighbouring community? (This way more wealth gets funneled into the lower class.)

This doesn't seem to be quite as good a deal for the wealthier classes. After all, it's usually the case that wealthy families seek almost above all other things, the preservation of that wealth and status within as small a community as possible. Paying poor people for a pretty but most likely uneducated and perhaps diseased or ill behaved spouse strikes me as odd.

Question: how did this system come about? What is the advantage the wealthy / nobles see in this system? What makes the wealthier classes view such regular redistribution of wealth as a positive and how do they maintain their wealth and status?

Or is that even important?

Posted December 17th, 2018 by elemtilas

See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natchez_people for an R.L. society in which the three upper classes were required to choose spouses from the lowest class.

I don’t think that system was completely understood, nor stable without certain other things going on that we might not want in our consocieties, but it could probably be tinkered with.

If the Krupps could stay rich by always bequeathing the family business to a foundling, I think some other family might stay rich always bringing in a child-in-law not born with a silver spoon in her/his mouth.

OTOH they might want class-exogamy only for the heir and/or heiress; and who that might be, might depend on whether they use:
  • male primogeniture (heir is oldest son),
  • male ultimogeniture (heir is youngest son),
  • female primogeniture (heir is oldest daughter),
  • female ultimogeniture (heir is youngest daughter),
  • absolute primogeniture (heir is oldest child), or
  • absolute ultimogeniture (heir is youngest child).

    Also, in some cultures, nearly everybody might be expected to marry more than once; for instance, the Zulus, or the Rukuba. In my concultures, ideally, people will marry three times, and have children by the first two.

    Perhaps only the spouse which will produce the heir, would be ideally from another class.
    Opposite to that idea:
    In the old Zulu culture, the man’s first wife was the companion of his youth, beside him through all his struggles. He’d leave half his property to her. She was likely to be from his own class. But once he’d grown rich, he’d start thinking about an heir. He’d purchase some nobleman’s daughter to be his “great wife”, and the mother of his heir. —— Most men had other wives, too.

    After all, it's usually the case that wealthy families seek almost above all other things, the preservation of that wealth and status within as small a community as possible. Paying poor people for a pretty but most likely uneducated and perhaps diseased or ill behaved spouse strikes me as odd.
    Question: how did this system come about? What is the advantage the wealthy / nobles see in this system? What makes the wealthier classes view such regular redistribution of wealth as a positive and how do they maintain their wealth and status?

    Actually, as Gibbon points out in “the Decline and Fall”, or as you can see examples of in the dynasties of ancient Egypt, typically any given dynasty would stay on top for about three generations if they didn’t bring in non-royals regularly. And USAmerican richesse also tends to last about three generations.
    If the young protege is trained and tested by apprenticeship or internship or whatever-you-call-it, by the upper class family, before any betrothal, they’ll have a chance to vet him/her for drive, reliability, intelligence, health, competence in at least the family business, and ability to get along with at least one future parent-in-law, during that education and “internship” or “apprenticeship”. Any defects in education, they can remedy; any defects in character, they can discover.

    The advantage to the upperclass is that someone born to parents who themselves were born to wealth, more often than not doesn’t have the drive to improve themselves greatly, that their more humbly-born grandparents had. By taking a Horatio Alger type into the family every generation or every other generation, the family can postpone indefinitely the fall (or gentle slide as the case may be) from the heights, that would otherwise be their probable fate.

    I’m not sure the upper class would look on this as redistributing the wealth to poorer folk. I think they might instead look on it as co-opting the talent and ambition of the lower class into the maintenance and improvement and flexibility of their own families’ wealth-producing enterprises.

    If the upper class family has to pay a dowry to their child who marries a lowerclass spouse, they may see that as a family-internal transfer of wealth.

    If they have to pay a bride price or groom price to the poorer kid or her/his family, they may regard that as a reasonable wage, or an investment, or a gamble. If things work out they may feel they got value for their money.

    I’m also not sure the prestation would be higher, the greater the difference in wealth. In fact the custom might start because so many upper crust families notice that dowries or brideprices or whatever seem to be extravagant when the other kid is rich, but sweetly reasonable when the other kid is poor. If everyone marries twice (at least), they may feel they should economise on a youngster’s first marriage, and wait to splurge until the second marriage. Or perhaps the first marriage is to another rich kid, because the Bank of Mom and Dad can help, but the second marriage is paid for by the bride/groom her/himself. Or something.

    In the point-of-view of the geopoet, the advantage to the rich is, they’re better off if their whole society is healthy. And too severe an economic inequality is unhealthy. Furthermore a healthy economy requires buyers; and the richer the lower class is, the more they can spend, so the richer they can make the upper class.

    —————

    It’s too late at night here and now to go into all the possible modifications which, I’m sure, you’ll think of yourself even if I don’t mention them first. I’m too old to keep staying up this far past my bedtime!

    I appreciate your discussions and your interest, and look forward to more later.

  • Posted December 17th, 2018 by chiarizio

    I think what you're saying here makes a lot of sense. Particularly the later additions.

    Although they don't comprehend wealth the same way Men do, it is the case that Daine, even those of what we might call the "great families" will often look outside the locality for mates. As you say, this brings in new talent, new blood, new magic, etc.

    See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natchez_people for an R.L. society in which the three upper classes were required to choose spouses from the lowest class.

    I don’t think that system was completely understood, nor stable without certain other things going on that we might not want in our con societies, but it could probably be tinkered with.

    If the Krupps could stay rich by always bequeathing the family business to a foundling, I think some other family might stay rich always bringing in a child-in-law not born with a silver spoon in her/his mouth.

    OTOH they might want class-exogamy only for the heir and/or heiress; and who that might be, might depend on whether they use:
  • male primogeniture (heir is oldest son),
  • male ultimogeniture (heir is youngest son),
  • female primogeniture (heir is oldest daughter),
  • female ultimogeniture (heir is youngest daughter),
  • absolute primogeniture (heir is oldest child), or
  • absolute ultimogeniture (heir is youngest child).

    Also, in some cultures, nearly everybody might be expected to marry more than once; for instance, the Zulus, or the Rukuba. In my concultures, ideally, people will marry three times, and have children by the first two.

    Perhaps only the spouse which will produce the heir, would be ideally from another class.
    Opposite to that idea:
    In the old Zulu culture, the man’s first wife was the companion of his youth, beside him through all his struggles. He’d leave half his property to her. She was likely to be from his own class. But once he’d grown rich, he’d start thinking about an heir. He’d purchase some nobleman’s daughter to be his “great wife”, and the mother of his heir. —— Most men had other wives, too.

    After all, it's usually the case that wealthy families seek almost above all other things, the preservation of that wealth and status within as small a community as possible. Paying poor people for a pretty but most likely uneducated and perhaps diseased or ill behaved spouse strikes me as odd.
    Question: how did this system come about? What is the advantage the wealthy / nobles see in this system? What makes the wealthier classes view such regular redistribution of wealth as a positive and how do they maintain their wealth and status?

    Actually, as Gibbon points out in “the Decline and Fall”, or as you can see examples of in the dynasties of ancient Egypt, typically any given dynasty would stay on top for about three generations if they didn’t bring in non-royals regularly. And USAmerican richesse also tends to last about three generations.
    If the young protege is trained and tested by apprenticeship or internship or whatever-you-call-it, by the upper class family, before any betrothal, they’ll have a chance to vet him/her for drive, reliability, intelligence, health, competence in at least the family business, and ability to get along with at least one future parent-in-law, during that education and “internship” or “apprenticeship”. Any defects in education, they can remedy; any defects in character, they can discover.

    The advantage to the upperclass is that someone born to parents who themselves were born to wealth, more often than not doesn’t have the drive to improve themselves greatly, that their more humbly-born grandparents had. By taking a Horatio Alger type into the family every generation or every other generation, the family can postpone indefinitely the fall (or gentle slide as the case may be) from the heights, that would otherwise be their probable fate.

    I’m not sure the upper class would look on this as redistributing the wealth to poorer folk. I think they might instead look on it as co-opting the talent and ambition of the lower class into the maintenance and improvement and flexibility of their own families’ wealth-producing enterprises.

    If the upper class family has to pay a dowry to their child who marries a lowerclass spouse, they may see that as a family-internal transfer of wealth.

    If they have to pay a bride price or groom price to the poorer kid or her/his family, they may regard that as a reasonable wage, or an investment, or a gamble. If things work out they may feel they got value for their money.

    I’m also not sure the prestation would be higher, the greater the difference in wealth. In fact the custom might start because so many upper crust families notice that dowries or brideprices or whatever seem to be extravagant when the other kid is rich, but sweetly reasonable when the other kid is poor. If everyone marries twice (at least), they may feel they should economise on a youngster’s first marriage, and wait to splurge until the second marriage. Or perhaps the first marriage is to another rich kid, because the Bank of Mom and Dad can help, but the second marriage is paid for by the bride/groom her/himself. Or something.

    In the point-of-view of the geopoet, the advantage to the rich is, they’re better off if their whole society is healthy. And too severe an economic inequality is unhealthy. Furthermore a healthy economy requires buyers; and the richer the lower class is, the more they can spend, so the richer they can make the upper class.

    —————

    It’s too late at night here and now to go into all the possible modifications which, I’m sure, you’ll think of yourself even if I don’t mention them first. I’m too old to keep staying up this far past my bedtime!

    I appreciate your discussions and your interest, and look forward to more later.


  • Posted December 17th, 2018 by elemtilas

    [quote=“me”]Actually, as Gibbon points out in “the Decline and Fall”, or as you can see examples of in the dynasties of ancient Egypt, typically any given dynasty would stay on top for about three generations if they didn’t bring in non-royals regularly.


    Gibbon “quotes” (actually, translates, I guess) Machiavelli, pointing out that as long as Roman emperors willed the Empire to their adopted sons, the Empire remained in good hands; but as soon as they started leaving it to their biological sons, the Empire started to get into trouble.

    ————————————————————

    I see three ways, other than elections, that monarchies can choose successors, that have been used in history.
    1. Make the successor a close biological relative of the predecessor.
    2. Have the predecessor adopt the successor. Like the Krupps, for instance.
    2A. Or have the successor marry a child or nibling (niece or nephew) of the predecessor.
    3. Have the enterprise, or corporation, or team, or franchise, or kingdom, (etc.), purchase the successor. This is how modern capitalist mega-corporations, and professional sports teams, and so on, do it. It’s also how the Slave Dynasty in India(?) 🇮🇳 , and the Mamelukes in Egypt 🇪🇬, did it.

    Can you think of anything else?

    If you reply, what thread 🧵, and in which subforum, should I/we put this discussion?

    Posted January 6th by chiarizio

    I see three ways, other than elections, that monarchies can choose successors, that have been used in history.
    1. Make the successor a close biological relative of the predecessor.
    2. Have the predecessor adopt the successor. Like the Krupps, for instance.
    2A. Or have the successor marry a child or nibling of the predecessor.
    3. Have the enterprise, or corporation, or team, or franchise, or kingdom, (etc.), purchase the successor. This is how modern capitalist mega-corporations, and professional sports teams, and so on, do it. It’s also how the Slave Dynasty in India(?) 🇮🇳 , and the Mamelukes in Egypt 🇪🇬, did it.

    Can you think of anything else?

    If you reply, what thread 🧵, and in which subforum, should I/we put this discussion?


    I think it's fine here!

    I think you covered the possibilities I was thinking of.

    Posted January 7th by elemtilas

    It’s been a month; ——— Is it too early to hope someone has something to say to this thread?

    Posted February 18th by chiarizio

    @elemtilas:
    Can I get anyone else’s comment?
    Or an additional comment from anyone who has already commented?
    Come all ye erstwhile CWBBers!

    Edited February 26th by chiarizio

    Nobody from GTX0 before the merger ever commented on this. I kinda wish they would! Or at least one or two of them!

    Posted April 16th by chiarizio
    Reply to: Class Exogamy
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