An Example of a Turn from the Simulation
Students who had been randomly assigned to the Upper Middle Class would be given the descriptions of all the social classes this problem at the beginning of the week. They would be asked to bring to discussion section the decision that they thought their character would make with a justification of their choice.
Turn 11790Conditions in Premodern EuropeLower Middle ClassAdolf Grobschmied Economic Points: 100
Age: 22 Status Points: 150
Your father is master of a blacksmith shop that produces horseshoes and cannon for the King's army. Within the traditional guild hierarchy, your position as a journeyman in the shop is not an enviable one, because you must create a masterpiece before achieving the status of master craftsman. The guild system has, of course, served to preserve tradition, to standardize prices, and to control the quality of goods being produced. But these merits offer little solace to those of your generation, who are increasingly being excluded from the ranks of master. You are unlike your two coworkers because it is assumed that you will inherit your father's position within the guild hierarchy when he reaches old age. Your friends, however, must continue to serve as little more than wage workers and have bleak changes of ever becoming master craftsmen if they decide to remain in their present positions in Dresden.You face several problems in 1790. First a famine has struck Saxony due to frost and to a blight on the crops. The severe shortage of grain that resulted has meant a steady rise in food prices, one that has caused the cancellation of some of the shop's outside orders. Second, your father appears to be in sound health and is, after all, only 43. You might remain a journeyman for years to come. Finally you have fallen in love with the beautiful Gertrude, daughter of the Königbräu's innkeeper. Your father, upon hearing of this liaison, flew into a rage, for he felt that the girl was clearly beneath your status. On an excursion to the inn, you and your fellow journeymen discuss your options. After several beers, two of your friends confide in you that they intend to run away, to go "tramping" in search of better opportunities. They encourage you to join them in their adventure, and to bring Gertrude with you. Another two friends argue that it is the high food prices that have caused the plight of the journeymen in Dresden. They propose to demonstrate against the grain merchants like the Geldmachers who appear to profit from the famine; if all else fails, they will resort to force. You must choose from among the following alternatives:1) Run away with the other two journeymen and take Gertrude with you. The four of you could set off tramping and you would be independent from your father. There is a lot of insecurity in this choice, but you are young, and you have important skills which will help you to find work. You hope someday to set up your own shop, free of restrictions from your father and from the guild.2) Return home to your father, though you are certain that he will give you another beating and lecture you on filial respect, your social status, and the importance of maintaining a good family name. This choice means that you will have to give up both your relationship with Gertrude and the opportunity to leave Dresden with your two friends in search of independence and adventure. You will eventually gain the security and independence of becoming master of your own shop if you decide to stay, and if you live long enough, that is. There is no guarantee, in this age of high mortality and early death, that you will out live +your father.3) Join the apprentices and journeymen in riots against men like Fritz Unternehmer, a linen merchant who speculates on the grain market. If you can force grain prices down, business conditions are likely to improve for all of you. As a master's son, you will not starve like many of these artisans, but neither will you achieve the rank of master quickly under current business conditions.
In discussion section the students would get the results for all of the characters, and they can see the consequences of the decision that they have made.Turn I Results 1790Conditions in Premodern EuropeLower Middle ClassTurn 1Conditions in Premodern EuropeLower Middle ClassResults
1) Harassed by the police with whom you must register in every town, you are also unable to find work as a journeyman and are forced to join the urban proletariat in Chemnitz. Not only have you become destitute from having severed relations with your father but you have also lost a great deal of status in your move from the lower middle to the working class. One of your friends has died of consumption and the other has taken off his own way. You live with Gertrude, but she is not too well and is pregnant. Play rest of simulation as a member of the Urban Proletariat.
Economic Change ___-70___Status Change _____-140___
2) Your decision to remain in Dresden means that life will continue for you as it was before, since you have elected not to take the risks which rioting or tramping would involve. You do receive your expected beating for associating with the "scum" at the Königbräu.
Economic Change ____0___Status Change _______0___
3) Rioting may provide an important psychological release valve for you, but it does nothing to improve either your economic position or your status. Herr Unternehmer calls in the police to quell the disturbances in his street and you are promptly arrested and jailed. Though your father is able to obtain your release, you realize that an immediate improvement in your home situation is highly unlikely. You set out for Chemnitz to find work as a member of the urban proletariat, and take Gertrude with you. Play rest of simulation as a member of the Urban Proletariat.
Economic Change ___-70___Status Change ______-140___