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What are proverbs?

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Cambridge

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Bank holidays in Britan

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Edinburg

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Glimpses of the history of America

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Tower of London

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Smoking

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Media ownership and freedom of expression

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The battle for readers

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Radio and television broadcasting

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National newspapers

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Television and satellite broadcasting

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Radio

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News vs. news people

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Pocahontas

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The causes of crime

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The lost colony

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Old Hickory

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The war of 1812

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A long time ago

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George Washington and the Whiskey Rebellion

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It is hard to get any agreement on the precise meaning of the term social class. In everyday life, people tend to have a different approach to those they consider their equals from that which they assume with people they consider higher or lower than themselves in the social scale. The criteria we use to place a new acquaintance, however, are a complex mixture of factors. Dress, way of speaking, area of residence in a given city or province, education and manners all play a part.

In ancient civilizations, the Sumerian, for example, which flourished in the Lower Euphrates valley from 2000 to 5000 . . social differences were based on birth, status or rank, rather than on wealth. Four main classes were recognized. These were the rulers, the priestly administrators, the freemen (such as craftsmen, merchants or fanners) and the slaves.

In Greece, after the sixth-century . ., there was a growing conflict between the peasants and the landed aristocrats, and a gradual decrease in the power of the aristocracy when a kind of middle class of traders and skilled workers grew up. The population of Athens, for example, was divided into three main classes which were politically and legally distinct. About one-third of the total were slaves, who did not count politically at all, a fact often forgotten by those who praise Athens as the nursery of democracy. The next main group consisted of resident foreigners, the metics, who were freemen, though they too were allowed no share in political life. The third group was the powerful body of citizens, who were themselves divided into sub-classes.

The medieval feudal system, which flourished in Europe from the ninth to the thirteenth centuries, gave rise to a comparatively simple system based on birth. Under the king there were two main classes - lords and vassals, the latter with many subdivisions. The vassal owed the lord fidelity, obedience and aid, especially in the form of military service. The lord in return owed his vassal protection and an assured livelihood.