Class, estate and status in Czechoslovakia, 1918-1938

Smales, M. B. (1984). Class, estate and status in Czechoslovakia, 1918-1938. PhD thesis The Open University.



This thesis seeks to apply the methodology developed in Arthur Marwick's Class: Image and Reality in Britain, France and the U. S. A. Since 1930 to the study of the Czechoslovak First Republica It examines first those salient features in economic and political development which helped to shape Czech and Slovak societies in this period, paying particular attention to the impact of independence in 1918, and of subsequent social and economic reforms, on class relationships. It considers also the dichotomy between Czech democratic aspirations and the imperatives of the Habsburg past. Next it analyses contemporary perceptions of class, and of other dimensions of stratification, categorising these by source as follows: legal and bureaucratic materials, political party programmes, academic writings and informal and anecdotal accounts. A rough outline of those social groups which contemporaries felt to be of particular importance is gradually built up, and the interplay between the divisions and labels presented in the various sources is discussed. Then demonstrable facts of inecuality, such as the distribution of wealth and incomes, and the nature of housing, are outlined, and some general observations are made about the distribution of power and authority in inter-war Czechoslovakia, and about the relevance of voting behaviour as an indicator of the significance of class at this time. Finally the thesis reaches some overall conclusions about the nature and historical import of class in inter-war Czechoslovakia, with special reference to the notion of Czechoslovakia as the "society of the little man".

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