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The bourgeoisie (Eng.

: /brwzi/; French pronunciation: [buwazi]) is a polysemous French term

that can mean:

originally and generally, "those who live in the borough", that is to say, the people of the city
(including merchants and craftsmen), as opposed to those of rural areas; in this sense, the
bourgeoisie began to grow in Europe from the 11th century and particularly during
the Renaissance of the 12th century, with the first developments of rural
exodus and urbanization.
a legally defined class of the Middle Ages to the end of the "Ancien Rgime" (Old Regime) in
France, that of inhabitants having the rights of citizenship and political rights in
a city (comparable to the German term Brgertum and Brger). This bourgeoisie destroyed
aristocratic privilege and established civic equality after the French monarchy collapsed. The
aristocracy crumbled because it refused to reform institutions and financial systems.[1]
a sociologically defined class, especially in contemporary times, referring to people with a
certain cultural and financial capital belonging to the middle or upper stratum of the middle class:
the upper (haute), middle (moyenne) and petty (petite) bourgeoisie (which are collectively
designated "the Bourgeoisie"). An affluent and often opulent stratum of the middle class
(capitalist class) who stand opposite the proletariat class.[2]

The "bourgeoisie", in its original sense, is intimately linked to the existence of cities recognized as
such by their urban charters (e.g. municipal charter, town privileges, German town law) so there was
no bourgeoisie "outside the walls of the city" beyond which the people were "peasants" submitted to
the stately courts and manorialism (except for the traveling "Fair bourgeoisie" living outside urban
territories, who retained their city rights and domicile).
In Marxist philosophy the bourgeoisie is the social class that came to own the means of
production during modern industrialization and whose societal concerns are the value
of property and the preservation of capital, to ensure the perpetuation of their economic supremacy
in society.[3]Joseph Schumpeter saw the creation of new bourgeoisie as the driving force behind the
capitalist engine, particularly entrepreneurs who took risks to bring innovation to industries and the
economy through the process of creative destruction.[4]

o 2.1Origins and rise
o 2.2From progress to reaction
o 3.1Marxist theory
o 3.2France and French-speaking countries
4Modern history
5Bourgeois culture
o 5.1Cultural hegemony
o 5.2Conspicuous consumption
o 5.3Representations
o 5.4Theatre
o 5.5Literature
o 5.6Films
6See also

o 7.1Notes
o 7.2Further reading
8External links

The Modern French word bourgeois derived from the Old French burgeis (walled city), which derived
from bourg (market town), from the Old Frankish burg (town); in other European languages, the
etymologic derivations are the Middle English burgeis, the Middle Dutch burgher, the
German Brger, the Modern English burgess, and the Polish buruazja, which occasionally is
synonymous with the intelligentsia.[5]
In English, "bourgeoisie" (a French citizen-class) identified a social class oriented to economic
materialism and hedonism, and to upholding the extreme political and economic interests of the
capitalist ruling class.[6] In the 18th century, before the French Revolution (178999), in the
French feudal order, the masculine and feminine terms bourgeois and bourgeoise identified the rich
men and women who were members of the urban and rural Third Estate the common people of
the French realm, who violently deposed the absolute monarchy of the Bourbon King Louis XVI (r.
177491), his clergy, and his aristocrats. Hence, since the 19th century, the term "bourgeoisie"
usually is politically and sociologically synonymous with the ruling upper class of a capitalist
Historically, the medieval French word bourgeois denoted the inhabitants of the bourgs (walled
market-towns), the craftsmen, artisans, merchants, and others, who constituted "the bourgeoisie",
they were the socio-economic class between the peasants and the landlords, between
the workers and the owners of the means of production. As the economic managers of the (raw)
materials, the goods, and the services, and thus the capital (money) produced by the feudal
economy, the term "bourgeoisie" evolved to also denote the middle class the businessmen and
businesswomen who accumulated, administered, and controlled the capital that made possible the
development of the bourgs into cities.[8]
Contemporarily, the terms "bourgeoisie" and "bourgeois" (noun) identify the ruling class in capitalist
societies, as a social stratum; while "bourgeois" (adjective / noun modifier) describes
the Weltanschauung (worldview) of men and women whose way of thinking is socially and culturally
determined by their economic materialism and philistinism, a social identity famously mocked
in Molire's comedy Le Bourgeois gentilhomme (1670), which satirises buying the trappings of a
noble-birth identity as the means of climbing the social ladder.[9][10] The 18th century saw a partial
rehabilitation of bourgeois values in genres such as the drame bourgeois (bourgeois drama) and
"bourgeois tragedy".

The 16th-century German banker Jakob Fugger and his principal accountant, M. Schwarz, registering an entry
to a ledger. The background shows a file cabinet indicating the European cities where the Fugger Bank
conducts business. (1517)

Origins and rise[edit]
Further information: History of capitalism Origins of capitalism, and Trade History
The bourgeoisie emerged as a historical and political phenomenon in the 11th century when
the bourgs of Central and Western Europe developed into cities dedicated to commerce. This urban
expansion was possible thanks to economic concentration due to the appearance of protective selforganisation into guilds. Guilds arose when individual businessmen (such as craftsmen, artisans and
merchants) conflicted with their rent-seeking feudal landlords who demanded greater rents than
previously agreed.
In the event, by the end of the Middle Ages (ca. AD 1500), under rgimes of the early national
monarchies of Western Europe, the bourgeoisie acted in self-interest, and politically supported the
king or queen against legal and financial disorder caused by the greed of the feudal lords.[citation needed] In
the late-16th and early 17th centuries, the bourgeoisies of England and the Netherlands had become
the financial thus political forces that deposed the feudal order; economic power had vanquished
military power in the realm of politics.[8]

From progress to reaction[edit]

During the 17th and 18th centuries, the bourgeoisie were the politically progressive social class who
supported the principles of constitutional government and of natural right, against the Law of
Privilege and the claims of rule by divine right that the nobles and prelates had autonomously
exercised during the feudal order.
The English Civil War (164251), the American War of Independence (177583), and French
Revolution (178999) were partly motivated by the desire by the bourgeoisie to rid themselves of the
feudal and royal encroachments on their personal liberty, commercial prospects, and the ownership
of property. In the 19th century, the bourgeoisie propounded liberalism, and gained political rights,
religious rights, and civil liberties for themselves and the lower social classes; thus the bourgeoisie
was a progressive philosophic and political force in Western societies.

After the Industrial Revolution (17501850), by the mid-19th century the great expansion of the
bourgeoisie social class caused its stratification by business activity and by economic function
into the haute bourgeoisie (bankers and industrialists) and the petite
bourgeoisie (tradesmen and white-collar workers). Moreover, by the end of the 19th century, the
capitalists (the original bourgeoisie) had ascended to the upper class, while the developments of
technology and technical occupations allowed the rise of working-class men and women to the lower
strata of the bourgeoisie; yet the social progress was incidental.

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Marxist theory[edit]
According to Karl Marx, the bourgeois during Middle Ages usually was a self-employed businessman
such as a merchant, banker, or entrepreneur whose economic role in society was being the
financial intermediary to the feudal landlord and the peasant who worked the fief, the land of the lord.
Yet, by the 18th century, the time of the Industrial Revolution (17501850) and of industrial
capitalism, the bourgeoisie had become the economic ruling class who owned the means of
production (capital and land), and who controlled the means of coercion (armed forces and legal
system, police forces and prison system).
In such a society, the bourgeoisie's ownership of the means of production allowed them to employ
and exploit the wage-earning working class (urban and rural), people whose only economic means is
labour; and the bourgeois control of the means of coercion suppressed the sociopolitical challenges
by the lower classes, and so preserved the economic status quo; workers remained workers, and
employers remained employers.[11]
In the 19th century, Marx distinguished two types of bourgeois capitalist: (i) the functional capitalists,
who are business administrators of the means of production; and (ii) rentier capitalists whose
livelihoods derive either from the rent of property or from the interest-income produced by finance
capital, or both.[12] In the course of economic relations, the working class and the bourgeoisie
continually engage in class struggle, where the capitalists exploit the workers, while the workers
resist their economic exploitation, which occurs because the worker owns no means of production,
and, to earn a living, he or she seeks employment from the bourgeois capitalist; the worker produces
goods and services that are property of the employer, who sells them for a price.
Besides describing the social class who owns the means of production, the Marxist use of the term
"bourgeois" also describes the consumerist style of life derived from the ownership
of capital and real property. Marx acknowledged the bourgeois industriousness that created wealth,
but criticised the moral hypocrisy of the bourgeoisie when they ignored the alleged origins of their
wealth the exploitation of the proletariat, the urban and rural workers. Further sense denotations of
"bourgeois" describe ideological concepts such as "bourgeois freedom", which is thought to be
opposed to substantive forms of freedom; "bourgeois independence"; "bourgeois personal
individuality"; the "bourgeois family"; et cetera, all derived from owning capital and property.
(See: The Communist Manifesto, 1848.)

France and French-speaking countries[edit]

In English, the term bourgeoisie is often used to denote the middle classes. In fact, the French term
encompasses both the upper and middle classes,[13] a misunderstanding which has occurred in other
languages as well. The bourgeoisie in France and many French-speaking countries consists of four
evolving social layers: petite bourgeoisie, moyenne bourgeoisie, grande bourgeoisie, and haute
Petite Bourgeoisie[edit]
The petite bourgeoisie consists of people who have experienced a brief ascension in social
mobility for one or two generations.[citation needed] It usually starts with a trade or craft, and by the second

and third generation, a family may rise another level. The petite bourgeois would belong to the
British lower middle class and would be American middle income. They are distinguished mainly by
their mentality, and would differentiate themselves from the proletariat or working class. This class
would include artisans, small traders, shopkeepers, and small farm owners. They are not employed,
but may not be able to afford employees themselves.
Moyenne Bourgeoisie[edit]
The moyenne bourgeoisie or middle bourgeoisie contains people who have solid incomes and
assets, but not the aura of those who have become established at a higher level. They tend to
belong to a family that has been bourgeois for three or more generations.[citation needed] Some members
of this class may have relatives from similar backgrounds, or may even have aristocratic
connections. The moyenne bourgeoisie is the equivalent of the British and American upper-middle
Grande Bourgeoisie[edit]

Clothing worn by ladies belonging to the bourgeoisie of ywiec, Poland, XIXth century. Collection of the ywiec
City Museum

The grande bourgeoisie are families that have been bourgeois since the 19th century, or for at least
four or five generations.[citation needed]Members of these families tend to marry with the aristocracy or
make other advantageous marriages. This bourgeoisie family has acquired an established historical
and cultural heritage over the decades. The names of these families are generally known in the city
where they reside, and their ancestors have often contributed to the region's history. These families
are respected and revered. They belong to the upper class, and in the British class system are
considered part of the gentry. In the French-speaking countries, they are sometimes referred la
petite haute bourgeoisie[citation needed].
Haute Bourgeoisie[edit]
The haute bourgeoisie is a social rank in the bourgeoisie that can only be acquired through time. In
France, it is composed of bourgeois families that have existed since the French Revolution.[citation
They hold only honourable professions and have experienced many illustrious marriages in
their family's history. They have rich cultural and historical heritages, and their financial means are
more than secure.

These families exude an aura of nobility, which prevents them from certain marriages or
occupations. They only differ from nobility in that due to circumstances, the lack of opportunity,
and/or political regime, they have not been ennobled. These people nevertheless live a lavish
lifestyle, enjoying the company of the great artists of the time. In France, the families of the haute
bourgeoisie are also referred to as les 200 familles, a term coined in the first half of the 20th century.
Michel Pinon and Monique Pinon-Charlot studied the lifestyle of the French bourgeoisie, and how
they boldly guard their world from the nouveau riche, or newly rich.
In the French language, the term bourgeoisie almost designates a caste by itself, even though social
mobility into this socio-economic group is possible. Nevertheless, the bourgeoisie is differentiated
from la classe moyenne, or the middle class, which consists mostly of white-collar employees, by
holding a profession referred to as a profession librale, which la classe moyenne, in its definition
does not hold.[citation needed] Yet, in English the definition of a white-collar job encompasses
the profession librale.edit