While each of the home systems have their own local social structures based on thousands of years of history and the unique physiological and psychological trait of the native species, the interstellar mining industry has produced its own system of social organization and hierarchy that is common throughout most colonies, outposts, and mining worlds.
The patricians are the elite of interstellar space. While they make up only a small percentage of the population, they control the vast majority of all wealth and capital. They are almost all descended from early founders of space industry companies from the homeworlds who happened to be in the right place and time to amass huge fortunes that later provided the capital to establish the infrastructure needed to establish mining colonies in other star systems once hyperspace travel became a possibility. By owning the infrastructure that made travel, trade, life, and work outside the home systems possible, these families gained near total control over the entire interstellar economy and in many cases direct owners of all property and facilities in the systems they developed. Since the early days of the establishment of the current interstellar economy, the patricians have become increasingly aristocratic and generally consider themselves completely separate from the rest of the population, being rarely seen in public by the common people.
Nearly all major companies doing business in interstellar space are being privately owned by only one or two patrician companies. It is much more common to give loans to other companies that are short on capital for investements than to purchase shares in the companies of other families. Personally owning their own companies with tens or hundreds of thousands of employees is a great source of pride for patrician patriarchs and matriarchs, and their source of legitimacy as a distinctive elite. The mining, manufacturing, and shipping industries are what made them rich and powerful and what enables the prosperity and comforts enjoyed by the people in the home systems. Getting rich through financial trading is beeing looked down upon and not considered a proper activity for distinguished gentlemen and ladies. Though in practice most of the big conglomerates also include massive banking divisions that produce a significant share of their profits.
The term equites originally refered to people who have invested some of their own money into companies they don’t have full ownership and personal control over. However, it has long since taken on a meaning that refers to all non-patrician people who have sufficient personal funds to engage in any economic activity of their own or own property. This social class consists of small business owners employing tens or hundreds of workers, as well as the vast armies of accountants and analysts handling the day to day transactions and administration of major companies and are considerably better paid than the more menial industrial jobs.
Equites typically make up between a fifth and a quarter of the population on most planets and stations outside the home systems. Equites can rise quite high in society and gain access to the inner management circles of the largest companies, and in some rare cases even mary into patrician families. But they will always be remembered as being from a lower class and can never become true equals of the patricians.
The proles are the working class and make up the vast majority of the population of interstellar space. Most proles work for the same company their entire lives, which is the same company their parents and grandparents worked for. In the early days of the industrial development of the New Frontier, large portions of proles were hired directly from the homeworlds, but this immigration has virtually stopped for almost a century now. Originally, skilled workers from the homeworld were lured with the promise of high wages, but with the high reliance on imports for all but the most basic goods, the cost of living in the colonies and mining worlds is extremely high, and life for most proles ranges from modest prosperity at best to abject poverty. When mining companies ceased operations in the New Frontier, sometimes they would have no further need for the workers or it would be cheaper to higher new staff close to newly opened sites than to provide for the transit of existing employees, and proles would be simply abandoned on exhausted planets to fend for themselves. This practice has led to the creation of numerous small independent mines by unemployed miners who are barely scraping enough ores from the ground to make something of a living.
Patricians, equites, and proles replace the privileged, stationary, and plebian upbringings of Coriolis and have identical mechanical effects in character creation.