Austria : Culture

Austrian society was traditionally stratified and had a low degree of social mobility. As a result, social differentiations were clear. Social relations between member of the aristocracy and commoners, masters and servants, large landowners and peasant-farmers, and employers and employees were hierarchical and well defined, and the use of titles as a reflection of rank or social status was valuable.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the three predominant social classes in Austria were aristocrats; "citizens" or burghers in towns and cities, who had special charters of rights and privileges; and free farmers in western Austria who owned and tilled their own land and peasant-serfs in eastern Austria. Reforms had been introduced during the last decades of the eighteenth century to bring about a greater degree of social equality, but legal equality was not accomplished in the Austrian half of Austria-Hungary until the constitution of 1867 was published.

The long time of prosperity and social mobility weakened the Lager mentality that had characterized the interwar time. Beginning in the 1980s, electoral patterns suggested that the orthodox political allegiances of specific classes to corresponding political parties and ideologies had deteriorated. This relaxation of political ties permitted the formation of new political parties that profited from a growing pool of floating votes.

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