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Social mobility and the Middle Ages

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 December 2011

SANDRO CAROCCI
Affiliation:
Università di Roma Tor Vergata, Dipartimento di Storia.

Abstract

Notwithstanding its relevance, social mobility has not been at the forefront of the agenda for historians of the Middle Ages. The first part of this paper deals with the reasons for this lack of interest, highlighting the role of historical models such as the French ‘feudal revolution’, the neo-Malthusian interpretations, the English commercialisation model and the great narrative of Italian medieval merchants. The second part assesses the extent to which this lack of interest has been challenged by conceptions of social space and social mobility developed in recent decades by sociologists and anthropologists. Therefore, it is really important to indicate the gaps in our understanding, and to clarify research questions, technical problems and methods. The paper examines the constitutive elements of social identities, the plurality of social ladders, and the channels of social mobility. It touches upon the performative role of learned representations, and upon the constraints imposed upon human agency by family practices and genre. It underlines the importance of studying the mobility inside social groups, and argues that we must distinguish between two different types of medieval social mobility: autogenous social mobility, and endogenous or conflictual social mobility.

Mobilité sociale et moyen âge

Malgré sa pertinence, la mobilité sociale n'a pas été une préoccupation majeure pour les médiévistes. La première partie de cet article traite des raisons pouvant expliquer ce manque d'intérêt, en soulignant le rôle qu'ont pu jouer certains modèles historiques, comme la «révolution féodale» mise en avant par les historiens français, les interprétations néo-malthusiennes, le modèle de commercialisation défini par les Anglais, et la grande épopée des marchands italiens. La seconde partie évalue dans quelle mesure ce manque d'intérêt des médiévistes pour la mobilité sociale a été contrebalancé par de nouvelles conceptions de l'espace social et les schémas de mobilité sociale mis au point et défendus, dans les dernières décennies, par sociologues et anthropologues. Par conséquent, il est vraiment important d'indiquer les lacunes de notre compréhension, et de clarifier la problématique de recherche, les questions techniques et méthodologiques. Cet essai définit les éléments constitutifs des identités sociales, la pluralité des échelles sociales, et les canaux de mobilité sociale. Il aborde le rôle modélisant des représentations acquises, et les contraintes imposées sur l'action des individus par les usages familiaux et le genre. Il souligne l'importance d’étudier la mobilité à l'intérieur des groupes sociaux, et fait valoir qu'il faut bien distinguer entre deux types de mobilité sociale à l'époque médiévale: d'une part une mobilité sociale «auto-générée» et d'autre part une mobilité sociale endogène, créatrice de conflits.

Soziale mobilität und das mittelalter

Ihrer großen Bedeutung zum Trotz gehört die soziale Mobilität nicht zu den bevorzugten Gegenständen der Historiker des Mittelalters. Der erste Teil dieses Beitrags beschäftigt sich mit den Gründen für dieses mangelnde Interesse und beleuchtet dabei vor allem die Rolle historischer Modelle wie die französische ,,Feudalrevolution“, neo-malthusianische Interpretationen, das englische Kommerzialisierungsmodell und die Großen Erzählung der italienischen Fernhändler des Mittelalters. Der zweite Teil untersucht, in welchem Maße das besagte Desinteresse durch die Konzepte der sozialen Raums und der sozialen Mobilität, wie sie in den letzten Jahrzehnten von Soziologen und Anthropologen entwickelt worden sind, herausgefordert wird. Es ist daher wirklich entscheidend, die Lücken unseres Verständnisses zu benennen sowie Forschungsfragen, technische Probleme und Methoden zu klären. Der Beitrag untersucht die konstitutiven Elemente sozialer Identitäten, die Vielfalt sozialer Leitern und die Kanäle der sozialen Mobilität. Er behandelt die performative Rolle gelehrter Repräsentationen und die Einschränkungen menschlichen Handelns durch Familienpraktiken. Er unterstreicht die Bedeutung des Studiums der Mobilität innerhalb sozialer Gruppen und behauptet, dass wir im Mittelalter zwei unterschiedliche Typen der sozialen Mobilität unterscheiden müssen: zum einen die eigenständige und zum andern die endogene oder konfliktbezogene soziale Mobilität.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

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References

1 W. Sombart, Der moderne Kapitalismus. Historisch-systematische Darstellung des gesamteuropäischen Wirtschtslebens von seinen Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart, 2nd edn (Munich and Leipzig, 1916); R. H. Tawney, Religion and the rise of capitalism: a historical study (London, 1926).

2 For families, see for example D. W. Sabean, S. Teuscher and J. Mathieu eds., Kinship in Europe. Approaches to long-term development (1300–1900) (Oxford, 2007).

3 S. Carocci ed., La mobilità sociale nel medioevo (Rome, 2010).

4 P. Sorokin, Social mobility (New York and London, 1927). A good intellectual and biographical profile of Pitirim Sorokin is C. Marletti, ‘Introduzione’, in P. Sorokin, La dinamica sociale e culturale (Turin, 1975), 1–73.

5 There are many introductions to sociological research on the mobility; see, for example, De Lillo, A., ‘Mobilità sociale’, in Enciclopedia delle scienze sociali (Rome, 1996), V, 727–39Google Scholar.

6 P. Bourdieu, Distinction: a social critique of the judgment of taste (Harvard, 1984); P. Bourdieu, Outline of a theory of practice (Cambridge, 1977).

7 W. G. Runciman, A treatise on social theory (Cambridge, 1983–1997), II, 27–37.

8 For some of most meritorious exceptions to this lack of interest, I mention the studies of Alma Poloni concerning the Italian communes in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries: A. Poloni, Trasformazioni della società e mutamenti delle forme politiche in un Comune italiano: il Popolo a Pisa (1220–1330) (Pisa, 2004); Poloni, A., ‘Fisionomia sociale e identità politica dei gruppi dirigenti popolari nella seconda metà del Duecento. Spunti di riflessione su un tema classico della storiografia comunalistica italiana’, Società e Storia 28 (2005), 799822Google Scholar; A. Poloni, Lucca nel Duecento. Uno studio sul cambiamento sociale (Pisa, 2009).

9 N. Poulantzas, Les classes sociales dans le capitalisme aujourd'hui (Paris, 1974), 22.

10 On the age-old idea of English society's high degree of openness and for the interpretations of modern historiography, see the studies of Lawrence Stone: centred on the idea of high mobility are L. Stone, The crisis of the aristocracy, 1558–1641 (Oxford, 1965) and Stone, L., ‘Social mobility in England, 1500–1700’, Past and Present 33 (1966), 1655CrossRefGoogle Scholar; while in L. Stone and J. C. Fawtier Stone, An open elite? England 1540–1880 (Oxford, 1984), the original positions are refuted and the author maintains that the permeability of England's elites was only a myth which contemporaries themselves believed, since they were blinded by a glaring misunderstanding: in fact what really occurred in modern England was not that nobility was more open, but that noble values spread towards the gentry and the middle class. Thus, the lower classes were ‘psychologically co-opted’ into the social hierarchy of the nobility (p. 293).

11 The most important studies are: F. R. H. Du Boulay, An age of ambition. English society in the late Middle Ages (New York, 1970); Bennett, M. J., ‘Sources and problems in the study of social mobility: Cheshire in the later Middle Ages’, Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire 128 (1978), 5995Google Scholar; M. J. Bennett, ‘Careerism in late medieval England’, in J. Rosenthal and C. Richmond eds., People, politics and community in the later Middle Ages (Gloucester, 1987), 19–39; Runciman, W. G., ‘Accelerating social mobility: the case of Anglo-Saxon England’, Past and Present 104 (1984), 330CrossRefGoogle Scholar; J. Gillingham, ‘Some observations on social mobility in England between the Norman conquest and the early thirteenth century’, in A. Haverkamp and H. Volrath eds., England and Germany in the high Middle Ages (Oxford, 1996), 333–55; C. Phytian-Adams, Desolation of a city: Coventry and the urban crisis of the late Middle Ages (Cambridge, 2002); J. S. Bothwell, Edward III and the English peerage: royal patronage, social mobility, and political control in fourteenth-century England (Woodbridge, 2004). Particularly rich is the interpretative and empirical framework of C. Dyer, An age of transition? Economy and society in England in the later Middle Ages (Oxford, 2005). For more studies, see notes 28–38 below.

12 Readers are reminded of the importance of the frontier and of colonisation and, hence, of the structural diversity of the Iberian peninsula, as emphasised in the theses of C. Sánchez Albornoz, España, un enigma historico (Buenos Aires, 1956), and the studies on the twelfth- and thirteenth-century transformations of the nobility by S. de Moxó, , ‘De la nobleza vieja a la nobleza nueva. La trasformación nobiliarias castellana en la Baja Edad Media’, Cuadernos de Historia-Anexos a la revista Hispania 3 (1969), 1210Google Scholar.

13 Bougard, F., ‘Genèse et réception du Mâconnais de Georges Duby’, in Studi sulle società e le culture del medioevo per Girolamo Arnaldi (Florence, 2001), 3154Google Scholar; Freedman, P., ‘Georges Duby and the medieval peasantry’, Medieval History Journal 4 (2001), 259–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Carocci, S., ‘Signoria rurale e mutazione feudale. Una discussione’, Storica 3, 8 (1997), 4991Google Scholar.

14 For example, G. Schulz ed., Sozialer Aufstieg. Funktionseliten im Spätmittelalter und in der frühen Neuzeit (München, 2002), that was based on a research project on ‘Deutsche Führungsschichten in der Neuzeit’, which between 1965 and 1978 had led to the publication of six volumes.

15 On the Neue Lehre, a clear and classical analysis is Tabacco, G., ‘La dissoluzione medievale dello stato nella recente storiografia’, Studi Medievali, serie III, 1, 2 (1960), 397446Google Scholar, reprinted in G. Tabacco, Sperimentazioni del potere nell'alto medioevo (Torino, 1993), 279–303. For the studies of the following decades, Mineo, E. I., ‘Di alcuni usi della nobiltà medievale’, Storica 7, 20–21 (2001), 958Google Scholar.

16 K. Bosl, ‘Soziale Mobilität in der mittelalterlichen Gesellschaft. Soziale Aufstiegsbewegungen im europäischen Mittelalter’, in K. Bosl, Die Gesellschaft in der Geschichte des Mittelalters (Göttingen, 1975), 44–60; the quotation is from O. Capitani, ‘Introduzione’, in K. Bosl, Modelli di società medievale (Bologna, 1979), 25–6.

17 Two excellent reconstructions of the studies and methods of K. Schmid are Guglielmotti, P., ‘Esperienze di ricerca e problemi di metodo negli studi di Karl Schmid sulla nobiltà medievale’, Annali dell'Istituto Storico Italo-Germanico di Trento 13 (1987), 209–69Google Scholar, and Oexle, O. G., ‘Gruppen in der Gesellschaft. Das wissenschaftliche Oeuvre von Karl Schmid’, Frühmittelalterliche Studien 28 (1994), 410–23Google Scholar.

18 See especially the essays collected in G. Althoff, Spielregeln der Politik im Mittelalter. Kommunikation in Frieden und Fehde (Darmstadt, 1997), and G. Althoff, Verwandte, Freunde und Getreue. Zum politischen Stellenwert der Gruppenbindungen im früheren Mittelalter (Darmstadt, 1990; English translation: Family, friends and followers. Political and social bonds in medieval Europe, Cambridge, 2004).

19 O. G. Oexle, ‘Deutungsschemata der sozialen Wirklichkeit im frühen und hohen Mittelalter. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des Wissens’, in F. Graus ed., Mentalitäten im Mittelalter. Methodische und inhaltliche Probleme (Sigmaringen, 1987), 65–117 (English version: ‘Perceiving social reality in the early and high Middle Ages. A contribution to a history of social knowledge’, in B. Jussen ed., Ordering medieval society. Perspectives on intellectual and practical modes of shaping social relations (Philadelphia, 2001), 92–143; O. G. Oexle, ‘Die funktionale Dreiteilung als Deutungschema der sozialen Wirklichkeit in der ständischen Gesellschaft des Mittelalters’, in W. Schulze ed., Ständische Gesellschaft und soziale Mobilität (München, 1988), 19–51; O. G. Oexle, Paradigmi del sociale. Adalberone di Laon e la società tripartita del Medioevo (Salerno, 2000), with the useful R. Delle Donne, ‘Introduzione’.

20 This tendency is still present in important essays such as M. Mitterauer, ‘Probleme der Stratifikation im mittelalterlichen Gesellschaftssystem’, in J. Kocka ed., Theorien in der Praxis des Historikers (Göttingen, 1977), 13–54.

21 On Deutungsschemata, see also the two paragraphs in the text corresponding to notes 69–71.

22 H. Pirenne, Medieval cities: their origins and the revival of trade (Princeton, 1925); H. Pirenne, Economic and social history of medieval Europe (London, 1936); R. S. Lopez, The commercial revolution of the Middle Ages 950–1350 (Englewood Cliffs, 1971); C. M. Cipolla, Before the industrial revolution: European society and economy, 1000–1700 (London, 1976). Important reflections on the subject are now in G. Petralia, ‘Problemi della mobilità sociale nel mondo dell'intermediazione commerciale e finanziaria (secoli XII–XIV, Italia e Mediterraneo europeo)’, in Carocci ed., La mobilità sociale nel medioevo, 247–71.

23 Very influenced by the dominant interest in the city and its ruling classes are also the few researches on social mobility in rural areas, starting with the pioneering investigation of Johan Plesner, L'émigration de la campagne à la ville libre de Florence au XIIIe siècle (Copenhagen, 1934); about this book and subsequent studies where emigration to the city is mainly connected with the history of the urban ruling classes, see R. Comba, ‘Emigrare nel Medioevo. Aspetti economico-sociali della mobilità geografica nei secoli XI–XVI’, in R. Comba, G. Piccinni and G. Pinto eds., Strutture familiari, epidemie, migrazioni nell'Italia medievale (Naples, 1984), 45–74: 47–51 and 56. For recent Italian researches, in addition to the studies of A. Poloni mentioned above in note 8, see P. Pirillo, Famiglia e mobilità sociale nella Toscana medievale. I Franzesi Della Foresta da Figline Valdarno (secoli XII–XV) (Florence, 1992), and S. Tognetti, Da Figline a Firenze Ascesa economica e politica della famiglia Serristori (secoli XIV–XVI) (Florence, 2003).

note 8

24 A. Gamberini, ‘Le parole della guerra nel ducato di Milano. Un linguaggio cetuale’, in A. Gamberini and G. Petralia eds., Linguaggi politici nell'Italia del Rinascimento (Rome, 2007), 445–67: 462–64.

25 Petralia, ‘Problemi della mobilità sociale’. See also P. Cammarosano's rich interpretative outlines, ‘Il ricambio e l'evoluzione dei ceti dirigenti nel corso del XIII secolo’, in Magnati e popolani nell'Italia comunale, Proceedings of the XV conference, Pistoia, May 15–18, 1995 (Pistoia, 1997), 17–40, and G. Petralia, ‘Élites sociales et institutions politiques des villes libres en Italie de la fin du XIIème au début du XIVème siècle’, in Les élites urbaines au Moyen Age. XXVIIe Congrès de la S. H. M. E. S., Rome, May 1996 (Rome, 1997), 193–200: in which attention is devoted to the outbreak of internecine conflict that shook Italian cities after the mid-thirteenth century, explained by the gap that appears to have opened up between a process of economic and demographic expansion and mobility, and a social dynamic that involved concentration and stiffening at the socio-political vertices.

26 At least in the opinion of a sociologist with a great sense of history: Walter Garrison Runciman. Runciman, ‘Accelerating social mobility’.

27 F. Bougard and R. Le Jan, Quelle mobilité sociale au haut Moyen Âge?, in Carocci ed., La mobilità sociale nel medioevo, 41–68.

28 Du Boulay, An age of ambition; Bennett, ‘Community, class and careerism’; Bennett, ‘Careerism in late medieval England’. This emphasis on social mobility is also part of the modernising approach of A. Macfarlane, The origins of English individualism. The family, property and social transition (Oxford, 1978). A well-known essay is R. H. Hilton, ‘Ideology and social order in late medieval England’, in R. H. Hilton, Class conflict and the crisis of feudalism, essays in medieval social history (London, 1985), 246–52 and 332–33.

29 The theme recurs in all the studies, but for a quantitative assessment see Payling, S. J., ‘Social mobility, demographic change, and landed society in late medieval England’, Economic History Review 45 (1992), 5173CrossRefGoogle Scholar, which on the basis of some 5000 examples identifies a sharp rise in the extinction rate of male lines of descendancy as a result of the demographic crisis: while already before 1350 almost two out of three aristocratic lineages broke off after the third generation of male descendants, following the plague the same extinction rate was exceeded in only two generations (my calculations based on the tables on pp. 54–5 in Payling).

30 The most comprehensive and recent overview is Dyer, An age of transition?, 4–5 and 194–210.

31 For the new visions of the late medieval ‘crisis’, see S. R. Epstein, ‘The late medieval crisis as an “integration crisis”’, in S. R. Epstein, Freedom and growth. The rise of states and markets in Europe, 1300–1750 (New York and London, 2000), 38–72, and Dyer, An age of transition?. A useful introduction to the historiography on late medieval English economy is J. Hatcher and M. Bailey, Modelling the Middle Ages. The history and theory of England's economic development (Oxford, 2001).

32 C. Carpenter, Locality and polity: a study of Warwickshire landed society, 1401–1499 (Cambridge, 1992); M. Kowaleski, Local markets and regional trade in medieval Exeter (Cambridge, 1995); J. Kermode, Medieval merchants: York, Beverly and Hull in the later Middle Ages (Cambridge, 2002). A recent overview that insists on the limits of social mobility is C. Maddern, ‘Social mobility’, in R. Horrox and W. M. Ormrod eds., A social history of England, 1200–1500 (Cambridge, 2006), 113–33.

33 The most convincing examples of this criticism of the traditional sources are the studies of C. Dyer: An age of transition?; C. Dyer, Standards of living in the later Middle Ages: social change in England c. 1200–1520 (Cambridge, 1989); C. Dyer, ‘Did the peasants really starve in medieval England?’, in M. Carlin and J. T. Rosenthal, eds., Food and eating in medieval Europe (London, 1998), 53–71.

34 R. Britnell, The commercialisation of English society 1000–1500 (Cambridge, 1992); R. Britnell and B. Campbell eds., A commercialising economy. England 1086 to c. 1300 (Manchester, 1995); J. Hatcher and E. Miller, Medieval England. Towns, commerce and crafts, 1086–1348 (London, 1995). A good summary of the research in Hatcher and Bailey, Modelling the Middle Ages, 121–73.

35 C. Dyer, ‘How urbanized was medieval England?’, in J.-M. Duvosquel and E. Thoen eds., Peasants and townsmen in medieval Europe: Studia in honorem Adriaan Verhulst (Gent, 1995), 169–83, and D. Palliser ed., Cambridge urban history of Britain, 1 (Cambridge, 2000), 4 and 507–8.

36 Dyer, An age of transition?, 176–7.

37 For a good overview of the criticism, see Hatcher and Bailey, Modelling the Middle Ages, 149–73.

38 Z. Razi, Life, marriage and death in a medieval parish. Economy, society and demography in Halesowen, 1270–1400 (Cambridge, 1980), 90–9 and 146–50.

39 D. Nicholas, ‘Patterns of social mobility’, in R. L. DeMolen ed., One thousand years: Western Europe in the Middle Ages (Boston, 1974), 45–108.

40 Herlihy, D., ‘Three patterns of social mobility in medieval society’, Journal of Interdisciplinary History 3 (1973), 623–47CrossRefGoogle Scholar (also republished in D. Herlihy, The social history of Italy and Western Europe, 700–1500, London, 1978, n. XI, and in R. I. Rotberg ed., Social mobility and modernization, Cambridge, MA, and London, 2000, 19–43).

41 D. Herlihy and C. Klapisch-Zuber, Les Toscans et leurs familles. Une étude du Catasto florentin de 1427 (Paris, 1978).

42 The first were studies conducted in the USA by Natalie Rogoff and in the UK by David Glass. As is generally known, the main tool developed for the purpose of census taking and mobility analysis, the double entry table, also called the ‘matrix of mobility’ actually takes into account only one stratification – usually the head of the family's profession.

43 D. Degrassi, L'economia artigiana nell'Italia medievale (Rome, 1996), 100–6; D. Degrassi, ‘Il mondo dei mestieri artigianali’, in Carocci ed., La mobilità sociale nel medioevo, 273–87. For the Roman case, see. S. Carocci and M. Vendittelli, L'origine della Campagna Romana. Casali, castelli e villaggi nel XII e XIII secolo (Rome, 2004), 198–200. For the prestige of different corporations, see A. I. Pini, ‘Le arti in processione. Professioni, prestigio e potere nelle città-stato dell'Italia padana medievale’, in A. I. Pini, Città, comuni e corporazioni nel medioevo italiano (Bologna, 1986), 259–91.

44 L. Feller, A. Gramain and F. Weber, La fortune de Karol: marché de la terre et liens personnels dans les Abruzzes au haut Moyen Âge (Rome, 2005).

45 Cammarosano, See P., ‘Marché de la terre et mobilité sociale dans les Abruzzes aux IXe–XIe siècles. À propos d'un livre récent’, Revue Historique 130, 2 (2008), 369–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

46 A. Fiore, ‘L'attività militare come vettore di mobilità sociale (1250–1350)’, in Carocci ed., La mobilità sociale nel medioevo, 381–407.

47 The most obvious reference is to the fate of peasant populations in rural territories under the rule of the Italian communes, but similar dynamics also appear to be present in other areas of Europe. Even among proponents of the commercialisation thesis in England, the prevailing impression is that only the peasant elites were really able to take advantage of the spread of credit, trade and the land market. Readers are referred to articles in the following collections: L. Feller and C. Wickham eds., Le marché de la terre au Moyen Age (Rome, 2005), and those under publication in the proceedings of the second and third meeting on La conjoncture de 1300 en Méditerranée occidentale, devoted to Dinámicas comerciales del mundo rural: actores, redes y productos (Madrid, 17–19 October 2005), and to Monnaie, crédit et fiscalité dans le monde rural (Madrid, 8–10 February 2007).

48 In general, see G. Sivéry, ‘Social change in the thirteenth century. Rural society’, in D. Abulafia, The new Cambridge medieval history, vol. 5, c.1198–c.1300, (Cambridge, 1999), 38–48: 40; an English example: M. K. McIntosh, Autonomy and community: the royal manor of Havering, 1200–1500 (Cambridge, 1986).

49 See P. Grillo, ‘Mobilità geografica e mobilità sociale in Italia e nella Francia meridionale (1300–1348)’, in Carocci ed., La mobilità sociale nel medioevo, 555–76.

50 This argument follows F. Menant and É. Anheim, ‘Mobilité sociale et instruction: clercs et laïcs du milieu du XIIIe au milieu du XIVe siècle’, in Carocci ed., La mobilità sociale nel medioevo, 341–79; 370–76.

51 For the most useful references see Carocci ed., La mobilità sociale nel medioevo, especially in J.-C. Maire Vigueur, ‘Conclusioni: mobilità e identità sociale’, 577–89; G. Milani, ‘Il peso della politica nella mobilità sociale (Italia comunale, 1300 ca.)’, 409–36; Fiore, ‘L'attività militare’; Grillo, ‘Mobilità geografica’.

52 Degrassi, L'economia artigiana, 43–63; Eadem, ‘Il mondo dei mestieri’.

53 P. Freedman, Images of the medieval peasant (Stanford, 1999).

54 The best overview is Dyer, An age of transition?, 126–72; for dating the cruck houses, see Dyer, C., ‘English peasant buildings in the later Middle Ages’, Medieval Archaeology 30 (1986), 1945CrossRefGoogle Scholar; for new knowledge on furniture, see C. Dyer, ‘Furnishings of medieval English peasant houses: investment, consumption and life style’, in Pautas de Consumo y niveles de vida en el mundo rural medieval. Coloquio internacional di Valencia (E), 18–20 September 2008, available at www.uv.es/consum/dyer.pdf.

55 The image of migrants from rural areas as fugitive servants has come to discourage the study of urban immigration of the lower strata of the rural world; see W. R. Day Jr. ‘Population growth and productivity: rural–urban migration and the expansion of the manufacturing sector in thirteenth century Florence’, in B. Blondé, E. Vanhaute and M. Galand eds., Labour and labour markets between town and countryside (Middle Ages–nineteenth century) (Tournhout, 2001), 82–110.

56 F. Franceschi, Il mondo dei salariati urbani, in Carocci ed., La mobilità sociale nel medioevo, 289–306 (see 293–5).

57 For the concept of indigenza lavoratrice, see especially C.-M. de La Roncière, ‘Poveri e povertà a Firenze nel XIV secolo’, in C.-M. de La Roncière, Tra preghiera e rivolta. Le folle toscane del XIV secolo (Rome, 1998), 197–281 (see 208).

58 Among the vast quantity of research on how individual strategies can modify the social framework and, above all, how social actors are influenced, sometimes decisively, by a set of predefined fields, see Margaret Archer's concept of ‘internal conversation’. For Professor Archer the relationship between structure and agency is mediated by human beings' aptitude to think, reflect and imagine about themselves and their own social world, thus influencing social pathways: M. S. Archer, Making our way through the world: human reflexivity and social mobility (Cambridge, 2008).

59 For example, works on agriculture in the Third World by Ester Boserup and on economic anthropology by Karl Polanyi and Marshall Sahlins.

60 C. Wickham, Framing the early Middle Ages. Europe and the Mediterranean, 400–800 (Oxford, 2005), 303–6, 428–34 and 535–50.

61 This is a valid observation in every situation, and is as true amongst the early medieval aristocratic families as it was in the world of late medieval artisans and merchants. See W. G. Runciman, ‘Accelerating social mobility’. For a detailed analysis of the impact on social mobility of the change in late medieval women's inheritance rights and owners, see M. Howell, The marriage exchange. Property, social place, and gender in cities of the Low Countries, 1300–1500 (London and Chicago, 1998).

62 M. E. Mate, Daughters, wives, and widows after the Black Death. Women in Sussex, 1350–1535 (Woodbridge, 1998); S. H. Rigby, ‘Gendering the Black Death: women in later medieval England’, in P. Stafford and A. B. Mulder-Bakker eds., Gendering the Middle Ages (Oxford, 2002), 215–24.

63 Degrassi, L'economia artigiana, 46–58; Eadem, ‘Il mondo dei mestieri’.

64 Degrassi, ‘Il mondo dei mestieri’, 283.

65 Petralia, ‘Problemi della mobilità sociale’, 253.

66 See note 6 above.

note 6

67 Max Weber's notion of ‘closure’ is the most obvious reference, along with its subsequent development by Frank Parkin and Raymond Murphy into the theory of ‘social closure’, based on their analysis of inclusion and exclusion practices adopted by privileged groups (on the basis of profession, citizenship, race and gender, etc.) to impede the access of other groups to the privileges they enjoy. F. Parkin, Marxism and class theory: a bourgeois critique (New York, 1979); R. Murphy, Social closure: the theory of monopolization and exclusion (Oxford, 1988). For the particular case of medieval England, see: S. H. Rigby, English society in the later Middle Ages: class, status and gender (London, 1995).

68 Howell, The marriage exchange.

69 Oexle, ‘Deutungsschemata der sozialen Wirklichkeit’; Oexle, ‘Die funktionale Dreiteilung’; Oexle, Paradigmi del sociale.

70 J. Le Goff, Imaginaire médiéval: essais (Paris, 1985); G. Duby, Les trois ordres ou l'imaginaire du féodalisme (Paris, 1979). More generally, see the numerous French and German studies indicated in Oexle, ‘Deutungsschemata der sozialen Wirklichkeit’, 66–75.

71 Mineo, ‘Di alcuni usi della nobiltà’, 48–56.

72 For example, N. Abelmann, The melodrama of mobility: women, talk, and class in contemporary South Korea (Honolulu, 2003), and R. Bruce, Upward mobility and the common good. Toward a literary history of the welfare state (Princeton, 2007): whether it is an account by several Korean women of their social ascent or novels whose protagonists are men of success, the emphasis is on the performative role of the narrations – words contribute to the making and changing of social worlds, and obviously of mobility. Behind these essays is the idea of a radical transformation underway in contemporary societies, above all in the USA and in emerging countries: given that the possibility and legitimacy of a fixed order of status has disappeared, mobility is presented as being the constant norm, because status is not an ascribed attribute, but the result of the moment, continuously reconstructed by individuals in a social world that is itself under continuous transformation.

73 É. Crouzet Pavan, ‘La pensée médiévale sur la mobilité sociale, XIIe–XVe siècle’, in Carocci ed., La mobilità sociale nel medioevo, 69–96.

74 Bougard and Le Jan, ‘Quelle mobilité sociale’, 41–3.

75 O. Volckart, Social mobility, institutional choice and economic performance: Germany from the fourteenth to the eighteenth centuries, VIII Annual Conference (2004), International Society for New Institutional Economics (available at www.isnie.org/ISNIE04/Papers/volckart.pdf). For theoretical references, see Geoffrey Brennan and Philip Pettit, The economy of esteem. An essay on civil and political society (Oxford, 2004).

76 Sorokin, Social mobility, 133.

77 For a recent criticism of the continuist position, see B. Ward-Perkins, The fall of Rome and the end of civilization (Oxford, 2005).

78 The scientific literature is vast; see for example A. Arnau, Chavarria, ‘Considerazioni sulla fine delle ville in Occidente’, Archeologia Medievale 31 (2004), 719Google Scholar; G. P. Brogiolo, A. Chavarría and M. Valenti eds., Dopo la fine delle ville. Le campagne dal VI al IX secolo (Mantova, 2005); A. Chavarria, J. Arce and G. P. Brogiolo eds., Villas tardoantiguas en el Mediterraneo occidental (Madrid, 2006), and, in particular, Lewit, TamaraVanishing villas: what happened to elite rural habitation in the West in the 5th and 6th centuries A.D.?’, Journal of Roman Archaeology 16 (2003), 260–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

79 In addition to the studies cited in the previous footnote, it is essential Wickham, Framing the early Middle Ages, 200–2 and 465–81.

80 A. Molinari, ‘Archeologia e mobilità sociale’, in Carocci ed., La mobilità sociale nel medioevo, 117–44.

81 For an examination of the historiography and for a position that clearly marks out the differences between Popolo and nobles, not only with regard to political culture and ideology, but also to behaviours and values, see Poloni, ‘Fisionomia sociale e identità politica’ (which contains extensive references to previous studies), and Milani, ‘Il peso della politica’. A different view that insists on the aristocracy's symbolic superiority is to be found in R. Bordone, ‘I ceti dirigenti urbani dalle origini comunali alla costruzione dei patriziati’, and in G. Castelnuovo, ‘L'identità politica delle nobiltà cittadine (inizio XIII–inizio XVI secolo)’, in R. Bordone, G. Castelnuovo and G. M. Varanini eds., Le aristocrazie dai signori rurali al patriziato (Rome and Bari, 2004), 37–120 and 195–243.

82 Molinari, ‘Archeologia e mobilità sociale’, 136–42.

83 S. Pearson, ‘Rural and urban houses 1100–1500: “urban adaptation” reconsidered’, in K. Giles and C. Dyer eds., Town and country in the Middle Ages: contrasts, contacts and interconnections, 1100–1500 (Leeds, 2005), 43–63.

84 Again the best overview is Dyer, An age of transition?; and see also C. Dyer, ‘Methods and problems in the study of social mobility in England (1200–1350)’, in Carocci ed., La mobilità sociale nel medioevo, 97–116.

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