Social Organization. There are three broad social classes represented in the region: a small upper class consisting of families descending from the old nobility, wealthy industrialists, and high government officials; a small middle class of professionals, government functionaries, and the clergy; and a predominantly agricultural working class. The first two categories are largely urban—in the villages, most residents share similar opportunities and access to resources, at least in principle, so that an egalitarian ethic is the rule. Informal authority is conceded to a villager on the basis of age, economic success, or other personal qualities. Castilian village society is highly individualistic, with weak, limited institutional venues for cooperative action. One such institution is the cofradía, or lay religious society, which is dedicated to the veneration of a specific saint and cooperates in the planning of Lenten Ceremonies and processions.
Social Control and Conflict. In the villages, the strongest mechanism for social control is the fear of loss of reputation. While municipal authorities can and do enforce public law, behaviors are kept in check informally through the fear of incurring the disapprobation of one's neighbors, of inciting Gossip and scandal.