Tracing a middle class: an inquiry on the Ottoman city of Kayseri 17th and 18th centuries
Ceylan, Pinar (2010) Tracing a middle class: an inquiry on the Ottoman city of Kayseri 17th and 18th centuries. [Thesis]
Official URL: http://192.168.1.20/record=b1304452 (Table of Contents)
The objective of this study is to develop a definition of an early modern ''Ottoman middle class'' in the context of Kayseri through an examination of the changing consumption patterns. Whether the ''middling sort'' constituted a distinctive social group in regards to their consumption habits and material well-being, and whether class boundaries can be defined in the basis of the amount of personal consumption goods possessed, are the main questions dealt with. The data examined in this study come from three sets of probate inventories taken from 33 registers. The three sets cover the periods 1660-1680, 1700-1720, and 1780-1800. It is argued that compared to wealth, stocks of personal and household belongings is a better indicator of living standards. The results indicate that from the mid-seventeenth to the late eighteenth century, personal wealth in Kayseri fluctuated in tandem with the ups and downs of the overall economy: rising from the late seventeenth century onwards, and then falling in the late eighteenth century. During the period, the ''middle class'', defined through wealth brackets, considerably expanded, whereas the ''middle class'', identified on the basis of stocks of consumer durables, expanded in the late seventeenth, and than shrank in the late eighteenth century. Despite the decline in personal wealth and the mean value of consumer durables observed in the inventories belonging to the ''middle class'', an analysis of the composition of consumer durables, through an index of amenities, demonstrate signs of improving material standards of living from 1700-1720 to 1780-1800. Furthermore, ''middle class'' presented distinguishing consumption patterns, justifying the assumption that classes can also be identified on the basis of consumption habits. The decision to acquire more of the goods mentioned in the index shows a significant shift in tastes of the inhabitants of Kayseri belonging to middle class, who by the end of the eighteenth century, moved beyond the level of sufficiency and owned a range of luxury goods besides the ordinary amenities.
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