Medieval (about 476AD-1600’s)
Intercorrelation of Medieval and Modern day STS
The medieval times is defined as the time period from around 500 A.D to 1400 A.D. The same pathway of technological innovation that sparked the invention of devices such as animal harnesses, back in the medieval times, still exists in present times. When there is a problem: people seek for a solution. Furthermore, the inequality seen in the medieval times caste system can be witnessed today in wealth inequality. Although many social systems and the advancement of technology has greatly changed, the same patterns we can observe in Medieval times of human’s urge to improve the status quo, and the selfish desires for wealth persist through modern times.
The medieval feudal system mirrors some aspects of social inequality today. In the feudal system, it was nearly impossible for individuals to move up castes. Where you were was where you stayed. There were multiple levels of ranking, with “untouchables” considered at the bottom of the system, even outside the caste. Brahmin, or priests, were at the very top. Below priests were Kshatriyas (kings and warriors). Below Kshatriyas were Vaisyas (skilled workers, landowners, craftsmen). Finally, below Vaisyas were Sudra (servants, unskilled workers). In present day times, things such as systematic racism and socioeconomic barriers makes it virtually impossible for some individuals to successfully work hard and obtain more money. For example, in modern times, when you are born into a poor family, you are more likely to be zoned for a school with low funding. Schools with low funding have higher dropout rates and lower test scores. In result, kids from families of higher income are more likely to succeed in their schools, seek higher education, and obtain higher paying jobs than children raised in low income environments.
The current statistics about wealth inequality are shocking. “The world’s richest 1 percent, those with more than $1 million, own 43.4 percent of the world’s wealth” (inequality.org). This statistic revelas that in present times, we are far from having economic equality. The pattern of a dominant class and an inferior class are not new concepts in society. The natural progression of humans in civilization to compete and create rankings within each other reveals truth about humanity. Across time periods, we have observed the same pattern of wealth and power. What is so good about wealth and power that we think we must have? Would society be better off if people stopped chasing these superficial and unfulfilling things?
Furthermore, technological patterns reveal to us the need for humans to improve their current conditions. Let’s take medicine for example. Today, scientific innovations have saved thousands of lives through the use of vaccines, antibiotics, surgical techniques, etc. However, back in the day, they often used remedies such as herbs to heal certain illnesses. Although it was not as effective, the same pattern of looking for a solution to a problem still existed.
People with higher paying jobs are able to afford better access to healthcare. Wealthier individuals have a greater access to the newest forms of technology. The same existed in medieval times. Horses, for example, were typically owned by people who could afford to buy and then take care of them. Wealthier people, particularly in America, also have a bigger political influence and are able to change the way America is structured. According to the New York Times, “A 2015 Times report found that at that point fewer than 400 families accounted for almost half the money raised in the 2016 presidential campaign.” Therefore, wealthier individuals are able to have a greater influence over politics, masking the voices of those who do not hold much wealth.
“Global Inequality.” Inequality.org, 8 July 2021, https://inequality.org/facts/global-inequality/.
Hays, Jeffrey. “Caste System, Hinduism and Their History.” Facts and Details, https://factsanddetails.com/india/Religion_Caste_Folk_Beliefs_Death/sub7_2b/entry-4158.html.
Krugman, Paul. “Why Do the Rich Have so Much Power?” The New York Times, The New York Times, 1 July 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/01/opinion/sunday/inequality-america-paul-krugman.html.
“Medieval Horses Part Two.” A Writer’s Perspective, 13 June 2020, https://aprilmunday.wordpress.com/2020/06/14/medieval-horses-part-two/.