Sociological Study of the Three Estates in the French Revolution Essay

Sociological Study of the Three Estates in the French Revolution Essay

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“The influence of the French Revolution upon the foundations of sociology in France is a fact which has received somewhat less than the attention it deserves,” (Nisbet). Mid 1700’s, France was in extreme debt due to past wars and the Three Estates were created that ultimately led up to the rise of the French against their monarchial government. The social tensions between the First, Second, and Third Estates prove that the French Revolution had a political cause and effected social change and those sociological theories are important to understand both the political cause and the social change.
Hierarchical power, prestige, and wealth within the French government were divided into Estate General’s three groups: the First, clergy of the Catholic Church, and the Second Estate, Nobility. The first and second estates were approximately 1% of the French population. The first estate included the bishops and priests, and the second estate included large wealthy landowners. These two groups were set above the Third Estate due to their social status, and is a prime example of sociology’s concept of social stratification. Author of sociology textbook, Nijole V. Benokraitis, “Social stratification is the hierarchical ranking of people in a society who have different access to valued resources, such as property, prestige, power, and status” (Nijole). The government was a part of that prestige social class and was one of the significant reasons for the Estates General and the French Revolution. Because the government was in severe debt, they taxed the poor instead of inflicting taxes on their high social classes, the first and second estate. Thus, creating larger economical troubles to the country because the rich are expecting the poor to pa...

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...tes and Global."
SOC3. 3rd ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2013. 137-55. Print.

Craig, Albert M. "Chapter 21: European Society Under the Old Regime." The Heritage of World

Civilizations. 6th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2003. 581-99. Print.

Politics, Culture, and the Origins of the French Revolution
Sarah Maza
The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 61, No. 4 (Dec., 1989), pp. 704-723
Published by: The University of Chicago Press
Article Stable URL:

The French Revolution and the Rise of Sociology in France
Robert A. Nisbet
American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 49, No. 2 (Sep., 1943), pp. 156-164
Published by: The University of Chicago Press
Article Stable URL:

"The One Percent." YouTube. YouTube, 01 Nov. 2011. Web. 17 Apr. 2014. <>.

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