A social stratum to which are attached specific rights and duties sustained by the force of legal sanction. The most obvious examples are the peasants, serfs, burghers, clergy, and nobility of the post-feudal states of continental Europe. For example, early-modern France distinguished the nobles, clergy, and the ‘Third Estate’ until the late eighteenth century. The term is often (though controversially) applied to the system of stratification in feudal Europe, since feudal strata were characterized more by personal bonds of vassalage, rather than shared political rights and obligations. It should be noted, for example, that the distinguished historian of feudalism Marc Bloch refers to the strata of the feudal order as ‘classes’.
Estate systems of stratification are rigid in their prescription of economic duties, political rights, and social convention, although typically they are not closed to social mobility. Unlike in caste systems, the estate does not necessarily renew itself from within: the clergy in pre-revolutionary France, for example, was an ‘open estate’.
Sociological usage of the term dates back to Ferdinand Tönnies's distinction between estates and classes (or ‘communal’ and ‘societal’ collectivities). In Economy and Society (1922) Max Weber cites the estates of medieval Europe as paradigmatic examples of status groups . In the same vein, T. H. Marshall defined an estate as ‘a group of people having the same status, in the sense in which that word is used by lawyers. A status in this sense is a position to which is attached a bundle of rights and duties, privileges and obligations, legal capacities or incapacities, which are publicly recognized and which can be defined and enforced by public authority and in many cases by courts of law’ (‘The Nature and Determinants of Social Status’, in Class, Citizenship, and Social Development, 1964). However, like most of the other main sociological concepts for studying systems of stratification, that of estate is a matter of some dispute.

Dictionary of sociology. 2013.

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, / , (in life or society), / , , , / (of those who constitute the State or the government of a State), , / (in any species of permanent property)

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  • estate — es·tate /i stāt/ n [Anglo French estat, literally, state, condition, from Old French, from Latin status, from stare to stand] 1: the interest of a particular degree, nature, quality, or extent that one has in land or other property compare fee;… …   Law dictionary

  • estate — es‧tate [ɪˈsteɪt] noun [countable] 1. PROPERTY a large piece of land in the country, usually with one large house on it and one owner: • The estate consists of the main villa, several outbuildings and barns, a swimming pool, a farm house and an… …   Financial and business terms

  • Estate — may refer to: * Estate (law), a term used in common law to signify the total of a person s property, entitlements and obligations *Estate (social), a broad social category in the histories of certain countries * Immovable property, real estate or …   Wikipedia

  • Estate — Es*tate ([e^]s*t[=a]t ), n. [OF. estat, F. [ e]tat, L. status, fr. stare to stand. See {Stand}, and cf. {State}.] 1. Settled condition or form of existence; state; condition or circumstances of life or of any person; situation. When I came to man …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • estate — [ə stāt′, istāt′] n. [ME & OFr estat, STATE] 1. a) state or condition [to restore the theater to its former estate] b) a condition or stage of life [to come to man s estate] c) status or rank 2 …   English World dictionary

  • estate — 1. The meaning of estate in the term three estates of the realm is a historical one, ‘an order or class forming part of the body politic’. The three estates are the Lords Spiritual (i.e. the heads of the Church), the Lords Temporal (i.e. the… …   Modern English usage

  • estate — early 13c., rank, standing, condition, from Anglo Fr. astat, O.Fr. estat state, position, condition, health, status, legal estate (Mod.Fr. état), from L. status state or condition, from root of stare to stand from PIE root *sta to stand (see STET …   Etymology dictionary

  • Estate — Es*tate , v. t. 1. To establish. [Obs.] Beau. & Fl. [1913 Webster] 2. Tom settle as a fortune. [Archaic] Shak. [1913 Webster] 3. To endow with an estate. [Archaic] [1913 Webster] Then would I . . . Estate them with large land and territory.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • estate — The intangible entity containing all of the non exempt assets and liabilities of the debtor. (Bernstein s Dictionary of Bankruptcy Terminology) Under the Bankruptcy and insolvency Act, the name given to the file or bankruptcy estate. (Dictionary… …   Glossary of Bankruptcy

  • estate — [n1] extensive manor and its property acreage, area, country home, country place, demesne, domain, dominion, farm, finca, freehold, grounds, holdings, lands, parcel, plantation, quinta, ranch, residence, rural seat, territory, villa; concept 516… …   New thesaurus

  • estate — ► NOUN 1) a property consisting of a large house and extensive grounds. 2) Brit. an area of land and modern buildings developed for residential, industrial, or commercial purposes. 3) a property where crops such as coffee or rubber are cultivated …   English terms dictionary

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