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Jack Buck Logan Bearden ENC1145 25 November 2013

Harry Potter and Class: The importance of democracy Throughout history, different cultures and societies have had different types of social norms, hierarchies, religious beliefs, and forms of government. These standards of each society define the way individual peoples behave, what they believe, what they should expect, and more importantly, how they interact with other people. Most societies and cultures have been built upon the creation of class. In some cases, these classes have been incredibly marginalized and in others, they have been completely equal. For the past two decades, J.K. Rowling has been praised for representing different historic and often controversial topics in her Harry Potter books. For example, she has demonstrated issues of race, slavery, and class. Class is represented as a significant problem in the books, and in numerous encounters, we can see these issues of class take place. These issues of class also become more and more dangerous and problematic as the storyline progresses from book to book. In the first two books, we can merely see discrimination from the upper class (pure-bloods and same-minded half-bloods) upon the lower class (Muggle-borns and other non-wizarding races), whilst in the last book, we can see the deliberate attempt at eradication and genocide of the lower class. This change occurs as a change in government happens, and in this paper, I argue, through the use of specific examples in the Harry Potter books, that the Wizarding worlds class marginalization is wholly dependent on its form of government. By analyzing this change that coincides with government change, we can demonstrate the importance of democracy and how equality is necessary to limit and more

Buck 2 importantly terminate class marginalization. We can also demonstrate the significance of stopping social exclusion based on birth, emphasizing the importance of equality between all people. Before we can analyze the change of class marginalization in the Wizarding world, we must first determine and define what class is to see how marginalization would likely occur. According to R.J Barry Jones, class had two definitions. The first is that of the Marxist definition, which as Jones relays is: a group of people with a common relationship to the structures of political and economic power within a particular society (Jones 161). The second definition is a Weberian perspective, where class is a group of individuals who are categorized according to common socioeconomic indicators that are termed life chances (Jones p.161). Jones also adds that Max Weber defined these life chances as being a group of individuals who have similar opportunities. Both pretty much declare the same thing, but the first definition states that it is outright power that affects success, whilst the second definition states that it is a persons possibility or opportunity to achieve success. These two definitions are important, because they are both used for different scenarios. The Marxist definition of class would mostly apply to class in a society which was some form of an autocracy, because that is where a class or group of people would be demonstrating outright power, whilst the Weberian definition would apply to democracies and equal societies, because that is where a class or group of people would more likely gain power because of their opportunity to do so. For example, a monarchy and aristocracy certainly has outright power over a lower class in a society, but in a democracy, it is economic and social status that would incline someone or to give someone a greater chance to have more power over a lower class. A specific example of this in the modern world that could be used is that of America today. The past ten presidents have all been millionaires, and most

Buck 3 presidents in the countrys history have had the same economic wealth (McIntyre 2010). It could be argued that to be powerful, its a requirement to be rich. The upper class certainly has the best chance at being powerful because they are much wealthier than the rest of the people. In the Wizarding world, we can see the class marginalization become greater as the government starts off under a form of a heavily bureaucratic semi-democracy to the upper class complete takeover and ultimate dictatorship. In the same fashion, the Weberian definition transitions into that of the Marxist definition. We must also determine just exactly what marginalization is and how it affects different classes in society. According to Hilary Silver, social exclusion is: a multidimensional process of progressive social rupture, detaching groups and individuals from social relations and institutions and preventing them from full participation in the normal, normatively prescribed activities of the society in which they live (Silver 15). Social exclusion is the individual act in the greater picture of class marginalization. In essence, Hilary Silver is saying that class marginalization is caused by social fragmentation and then discrimination by various individuals in those fragments upon other individuals in different fragments to cause inequality. In correlation, an individual in a class would use their respective resources, as in their economic, social, or political power or inclinations to discriminate against other individuals in a multi-dimensional manor, meaning willingly or unwillingly, knowingly or unknowingly. This is important to understand because it shows us that there are many ways in which class marginalization can be formed and many ways it can be reduced. Class marginalization in general can be as small as a generation making jokes about a certain class to as gargantuan as the purposeful eradication of a class or the transformation of a class into second-hand citizens. This shows us that class marginalization is dependent on the form of government because the government places limitations on the people

Buck 4 on what they can and cant do. In a democracy, ideally, the upper class cannot take away the rights of the lower class. In a dictatorship, the upper class holds all the power and can force the lower class and middle class to have no rights. Before we research specific examples in the transformation of class marginalization in the Harry Potter Series, we should now look at how class is laid out in Wizarding society. Rachel Labozetta separates the Wizarding society into three distinct classes in her editorial, Sociology of Harry Potter 101". She states that there is the upper class, which consists of pure-blood wizards and possibly some half-blood wizards. They are distinguishable by their high economic value, social influence, and general association with politics. There is the middle class, which consists of Half-bloods, blood traitors, and some Muggle-borns. They are sorted into the middle class either through their association with muggles or their low economic status. Their social influence is on par and greater than the lower class, but not at the same level as the upper class. In the bureaucratic government of Cornelius Fudge, they have the same political power as the upper class. The third class is the lower class, which consists of Muggle-borns, muggles, and other races. This class is very diverse as their economic state varies, although their social influence is almost non-existent. Muggle-borns are also not well-known to be in the Ministry, and it is impossible for other races to pursue politics. Labozetta goes onto explain that there will always be an overlapping of classes, and that it is common to find differences of opinion within the wizarding world. Here, she explains this phenomenon: "For instance, 'blood traitors' like the Weasleys do not see Muggle-born wizards and witches as being any different than they are. They see Muggle-borns as having the same capability, ability, and intelligence as they themselves have, and to them, Muggle-borns

Buck 5 can be just as good or better than pure-bloods, and could rise to the top if they wish, being second or first class." This information is helpful, as it shows us how Muggle-borns could possibly rise up to the Middle class. Regardless, Rachel LaBozetta's editorial demonstrates how the semi-democratic government of Cornelius Fudge causes class marginalization in the Wizarding society, and the many problems with discrimination. Using all of this information, for the purpose of analyzing the Harry Potter series in this paper, we must lay out the following definitions. First, we have social exclusion in which an individual uses their economic, social, or political inclinations to discriminate. Then we have social exclusion in which an individual uses their economic, political, or social power to discriminate. The first demonstrates what is used under a democratic government, whilst the second is what is used under an autocratic government. A Marxist definition society is effectively that of an autocratic government, whilst a Weberian definition society is that of a democratic government. The demonstration of class marginalization changing depending on the government can be shown in the Harry Potter series. In Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone, readers are first given a society in which all wizards appear equal under the governments law. This can be seen in the fact that regardless of blood percentage, anyone can go to Hogwarts. There are still severe issues in regards to other magical creatures, but the general makeup of Wizarding society (witches and wizards) are all equal under the law. Despite this, there still is class marginalization, and this is where the Weberian definition would apply because it is social and economic opportunities or 'life chances' that cause this general marginalization. One of the first examples

Buck 6 of this type of marginalization we see in the entire series is actually one of Harry Potters first experiences with the Wizarding world itself. In chapter 5 of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone, Diagon Alley, Harry encounters Draco Malfoy, who openly talks about the importance of traditional families, meaning families with long Wizarding histories, going to Hogwarts. He says: I really don't think they should let the other sort in, do you? They're just not the same, they've never been brought up to know our ways. Some of them have never even heard of Hogwarts until they get the letter, imagine. I think they should keep it in the old wizarding families. What's your surname, anyway? (61). This shows us that Draco Malfoy has prejudice based on social indicators. In his case, he discriminates against people who arent in old Wizarding families. This is also a clear example of social exclusion which leads to social fragmentation and class marginalization on a grand scale. This, however, is not outright power as it would be defined under the Marxist definition. This particular scene in the book shows us that under the rule of Cornelius Fudge, class marginalization of the Wizarding World is limited by knowing and willing discrimination through the use of an individuals social inclination, and not through their social power, because the government does not force Muggle-borns to be excluded from Wizarding School. We can see also that class marginalization, under Cornelius Fudge, is limited by knowing and willing discrimination through the use of an individuals economic opportunity as well. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Lucius Malfoy demonstrates this type of discrimination when he encounters Arthur Weasley in a book store in Diagon Alley. Lucius analyzes one of Arthurs books, which is old and dirty, and then he makes a quip against the Weasley family. Here, Rowling uses this situation to demonstrate one of the many different forms of social exclusion that appears throughout the series:

Buck 7 Busy time at the Ministry, I hear, said Mr. Malfoy. All those raids . . . I hope theyre paying you overtime? He reached into Ginnys cauldron and extracted, from amid the glossy Lockhart books, a very old, very battered copy of A Beginners Guide to Transfiguration. Obviously not, Mr. Malfoy said. Dear me, whats the use of being a disgrace to the name of wizard if they dont even pay you well for it?. (Chamber of Secrets, 62) Lucius refers to the economic situation of the Weasley family, Arthur Weasley's belief in the equality of all magical and Muggle people, and for his work in the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts Office . This shows us the extent at which class marginalization exists under the bureaucratic government of Cornelius Fudge. Whilst technically everyone under its law is equal, social and economical opportunity for the upper class causes inequality, with the upper and lower classes at odds with one another. Under this government, class marginalization isnt too noticeable, but there certainly is some to a small degree, showing us of the importance of true democracy and education about equality. Class marginalization becomes extremely increased in Harry potter and the Deathly Hallows. It is in this book that the coup takes place upon the ministry and in which the government is turned into a dictatorship by Voldemort. In Chapter 11, Remus Lupin explains how the government has changed: He doesnt need to, Ron. Effectively he is the Minister, but why should he sit behind a desk at the Ministry? His puppet, Thicknesse, is taking care of everyday business, leaving Voldemort free to extend his power beyond the ministry (Deathly Hallows, 208). This reveals that the government is now completely autocratic and the upper class is able to transform from economic, social, and political inclination to outright power. In the

Buck 8 same chapter, Hermione reads the Daily Prophet aloud, showing how this new autocratic government is using the classist prejudice of the upper class against the lower class: The Ministry of Magic is undertaking a survey of so-called Muggle-borns, the better to understand how they came to possess magical secrets. Recent research undertaken by the Department of Mysteries reveals that magic can only be passed from person to person when Wizards reproduce. Where no proven Wizarding ancestry exists, therefore, the socalled Muggle-born is likely to have obtained magical power by theft or force. The Ministry is determine to root out usurpers of magical power, and to this end has issued an invitation to every so-called Muggle-born to present themselves for interview by the newly appointed Muggle-born Registration Commission. (Deathly Hallows, 209) It is here that we see that the autocratic government leads to greater class marginalization, because the upper class, as in those who follow the political ideology of pure-blood supremacy, now has outright political power over the lower class. The Muggle-born Registration Commission takes away the wands of the Muggle-borns that cannot prove Wizarding heritage, thus effectively taking away any and all power that they have at all. This is the ultimate form of social exclusion as the upper class is completely eliminating the lower class from the normatively prescribed activities of the society in which they live. Another striking example of how the autocratic government of Voldemort enables complete class marginalization can be seen in the Magic is Might statue. The statue depicts a witch and wizard sitting on a throne made of Muggles with stupid and ugly faces. The Magic is Might statue not only separates the upper and middle class with the lower class, but it clearly demeans and degrades the lower class to be less than human. The autocratic government has thus

Buck 9 created an embodiment of complete class exclusion and marginalization. Not only do they say that Muggle-borns are the same as Muggles, but they also exclude them from normal life, depicting them as far inferior. This has eventually shown us that the class marginalization in the Wizarding world grew when the government changed with the coup by Voldemort and his allies. This change in marginalization was not possible until the government itself changed, and which is why the coup was necessary to achieve the goals of the political ideology of members in the upper class. With the shift in power, so too does the way in which social exclusion takes place. Whereas before the coup, social exclusion followed that of the Weberian perspective, in that class is a construction of social and economic indicators, after, social exclusion followed that of the Marxist perspective, in that class is a construction of political, social, and economic outright power. This leads us to rationalize that the Marxist perspectives application can only be eliminated by the creation of or under the ideology of a democratic and equal society. This is because outright power can only be exerted through the use of an autocratic government versus the opportunity of power that can only be exerted in a democratic society. Whether it is as blatant as a monarchy and aristocracy or as subtle as differentiation in wealth, all societies have some form of class system. And as we have seen with the Harry Potter series, depending on the government, all societies have a greater or lesser marginalization of class in them. Because of this, it is evident then that true democracy is of paramount importance to reduce class marginalization in society. However, as we have seen, even democracy alone is not enough to eliminate class marginalization. Education about the upper class' unfair advantage is needed. The amount of money involved in politics should be on the national discussion, and people should be informed

Buck 10 on how different classes have more or less opportunity to success. By doing this, we can help reduce a problem facing even our society today.

Buck 11 Work Cited Jones, R.J. Barry. Class, definition of. Routledge Encyclopedia of International Political Economy. 1st ed. 2001. Print LaBozetta, Rachel. Sociology of Harry Potter 101. Editorial. Muggle Net. 7 Oct, 2008: Net. McIntyre, Douglas A. "The Net Worth of the U.S. Presidents: From Washington to Obama." The Atlantic. 10 May 2010. Net. Rowling, J. K.. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. London: Bloomsbury Pub. 1997. Print. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. London: Bloomsbury Pub. 1998. Print. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. London: Bloomsbury Pub. 2009. Print.

Silver, Hilary. Social Exclusion: Comparative Analysis of Europe and Middle East Youth. Middle East Youth Initiative Working Paper. September, 2007.