Francis Fukuyama in Political Order and Political Decay pp. 187-88 is attributing the change in society from ascribed status in part to the printing press and the market for books. He describes how people in one small village could, by reading, realize their connections to people in other small villages. He quotes Ernest Gellner saying that this requires that members of such a society be able to communicate in speech and writing, in a formal, precise and context-free manner.
This is what a standard should be rather than the cramped, hide-bound nonsense English developed in the 18th century with its prescriptive movement.