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The bourgeoisie ( , ) is a social class, equivalent to the middle or upper middle class. They are distinguished from, and traditionally contrasted with, the
proletariat
proletariat
by their affluence, and their great cultural and financial capital. They are sometimes divided into a petty (), middle (), large (), upper (), and ancient () bourgeoisie and collectively designated as "the bourgeoisie". The bourgeoisie in its original sense is intimately linked to the existence of cities, recognized as such by their urban charters (e.g., municipal charters, town privileges, German town law), so there was no bourgeoisie apart from the citizenry of the cities. Rural peasants came under a different legal system. 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.


Etymology

The Modern French word ( or , ) derived from the
Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French: ) was the language spoken in most of the northern half of France from approximately the 8th to the 14th centuries. Rather than a unified language, Old French was a linkage of Romance dialects, mutually intel ...
or ('town dweller'), which derived from (' market town'), from the Old Frankish ('town'); in other European languages, the etymologic derivations include the
Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) is a form of the English language that was spoken after the Norman conquest of England, Norman conquest of 1066, until the late 15th century. The English language underwent distinct variations and developments ...
, the
Middle Dutch Middle Dutch is a collective name for a number of closely related West Germanic languages, West Germanic dialects whose ancestor was Old Dutch. It was spoken and written between 1150 and 1500. Until the advent of Modern Dutch after 1500 or c. 155 ...
, the German , the
Modern English Modern English (sometimes New English or NE (ME) as opposed to Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) is a form of the English language that was spoken after the Norman conquest of England, Norman conquest of 1066, until the lat ...

Modern English
'' burgess'', the Spanish , the Portuguese , and the Polish , which occasionally is synonymous with the intelligentsia. In the 18th century, before the
French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) was a period of radical political and societal change in France France (), officially the French Republic ( ), is a country primarily located in Western Europe. It also comprises of Overseas France, ...

French Revolution
(1789–1799), in the French Ancien Régime, the masculine and feminine terms ''bourgeois'' and ''bourgeoise'' identified the relatively 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 Absolute monarchy (or Absolutism as a doctrine) is a form of monarchy in which the monarch rules in their own right or power. In an absolute monarchy, the king or queen is by no means limited and has absolute power, though a limited constitut ...
of the
Bourbon
Bourbon
King
Louis XVI
Louis XVI
(r. 1774–1791), his clergy, and his aristocrats in the
French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) was a period of radical political and societal change in France France (), officially the French Republic ( ), is a country primarily located in Western Europe. It also comprises of Overseas France, ...

French Revolution
of 1789–1799. Hence, since the 19th century, the term "bourgeoisie" usually is politically and sociologically synonymous with the ruling upper class of a capitalist society. In English, the word "bourgeoisie", as a term referring to French history, refers to a social class oriented to economic materialism and hedonism, and to upholding the political and economic interests of the capitalist ruling-class. Historically, the medieval French word ''bourgeois'' denoted the inhabitants of the ''bourgs'' (walled market-towns), the craftsmen,
artisan
artisan
s,
merchant
merchant
s, 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."Bourgeoisie", ''The Columbia Encyclopedia'', Fifth Edition. (1994) p. 0000. 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
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
Molière
Molière
's comedy '' Le Bourgeois gentilhomme'' (1670), which satirizes buying the trappings of a noble-birth identity as the means of climbing the social ladder. The 18th century saw a partial rehabilitation of bourgeois values in genres such as the ''drame bourgeois'' (bourgeois drama) and " bourgeois tragedy". In the late 20th century, the shortened term "bougie" or "boujee" (an intentional misspelling) became slang, particularly among African-Americans. The term refers to a person of lower or middle class doing pretentious activities or virtue signalling as an affectation of the upper-class.


History


Origins and rise

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 and crafts. This urban expansion was possible thanks to economic concentration due to the appearance of protective self-organisation into guilds. Guilds arose when individual businessmen (such as craftsmen, artisans and merchants) conflicted with their
rent-seeking Rent-seeking is the act of growing one's existing wealth without creating new wealth by manipulating the social or political environment. Rent-seeking activities have negative effects on the rest of society. They result in reduced economic effic ...
feudal
landlord A landlord is the owner of a house, apartment, condominium, land, or real estate which is Renting, rented or leased to an individual or business, who is called a Leasehold estate, tenant (also a ''lessee'' or ''renter''). When a juristic person ...
s who demanded greater rents than previously agreed. In the event, by the end of the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the Post-classical, post-classical period of World history (field), global history. It began with t ...
(c. AD 1500), under régimes of the early national monarchies of Western Europe, the bourgeoisie acted in self-interest, and politically supported the king or queen against
legal Law is a set of rules that are created and are law enforcement, enforceable by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior,Robertson, ''Crimes against humanity'', 90. with its precise definition a matter of longstanding debate. ...
and financial disorder caused by the greed of the feudal lords. 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 Economic power refers to the ability of countries, businesses or individuals to improve living standards. It increases their ability to make decisions on their own that benefit them. Scholars of international relations also refer to the economic p ...
had vanquished military power in the realm of politics.


From progress to reaction (Marxist view)

According to the Marxist view of history, 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 Nobility is a social class found in many societies that have an aristocracy (class), aristocracy. It is normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty. Nobility has often been an Estates of the realm, estate of the realm with many e ...
and
prelate A prelate () is a high-ranking member of the Minister (Christianity), Christian clergy who is an Ordinary (church officer), ordinary or who ranks in precedence with ordinaries. The word derives from the Latin , the past participle of , which me ...
s had autonomously exercised during the feudal order. The
English Civil War The English Civil War (1642–1651) was a series of civil wars and political machinations between Parliamentarians ("Roundheads") and Royalists led by Charles I ("Cavaliers"), mainly over the manner of Kingdom of England, England's governanc ...
(1642–1651), the
American War of Independence The American Revolutionary War (April 19, 1775 – September 3, 1783), also known as the Revolutionary War or American War of Independence, was a major war of the American Revolution. Widely considered as the war that secured the independence of t ...
(1775–1783), and
French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) was a period of radical political and societal change in France France (), officially the French Republic ( ), is a country primarily located in Western Europe. It also comprises of Overseas France, ...

French Revolution
(1789–1799) were partly motivated by the desire of 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 Liberalism is a Political philosophy, political and moral philosophy based on the Individual rights, rights of the individual, liberty, consent of the governed, political equality and equality before the law."political rationalism, hostilit ...
, and gained political rights, religious rights, and
civil liberties Civil liberties are guarantees and freedoms that governments commit not to abridge, either by constitution, legislation, or judicial interpretation, without due process. Though the scope of the term differs between countries, civil liberties may ...
for themselves and the lower social classes; thus the bourgeoisie was a progressive philosophic and political force in Western societies. After the
Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Great Britain, continental Europe, and the United States, that occurred during the period from around 1760 to about 1820–1840. This transition included going fr ...
(1750–1850), 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 ''Petite bourgeoisie'' (, literally 'small bourgeoisie'; also anglicised as petty bourgeoisie) is a French term that refers to a social class composed of semi-autonomous peasants and small-scale merchants whose politico-economic ideological sta ...
'' ( tradesmen and
white-collar worker A white-collar worker is a person who performs professional, desk, managerial, or administrative work. White-collar work may be performed in an office or other administrative setting. White-collar workers include job paths related to government, ...
s). 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.


Denotations


Marxist theory

According to
Karl Marx Karl Heinrich Marx (; 5 May 1818 – 14 March 1883) was a German philosopher, economist, historian, sociologist, political theorist, journalist, Critique of political economy, critic of political economy, and socialist revolutionary. His be ...
, the bourgeois during the 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 Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, cultural and political customs that flourished in Middle Ages, medieval Europe between the 9th and 15th centuries. Broadly defined, it was a wa ...
landlord A landlord is the owner of a house, apartment, condominium, land, or real estate which is Renting, rented or leased to an individual or business, who is called a Leasehold estate, tenant (also a ''lessee'' or ''renter''). When a juristic person ...
and the peasant who worked the
fief A fief (; la, feudum) was a central element in medieval contracts based on feudal law. It consisted of a form of property holding or other rights granted by an Lord, overlord to a vassal, who held it in fealty or "in fee" in return for a for ...
, the land of the lord. Yet, by the 18th century, the time of the
Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Great Britain, continental Europe, and the United States, that occurred during the period from around 1760 to about 1820–1840. This transition included going fr ...
(1750–1850) 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. 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 In finance and economics, interest is payment from a debtor, borrower or deposit-taking financial institution to a lender or depositor of an amount above repayment of the principal sum (that is, the amount borrowed), at a particular rate. It is ...
-income produced by finance capital, or both. In the course of economic relations, the working class and the bourgeoisie continually engage in
class struggle Class conflict, also referred to as class struggle and class warfare, is the political tension and economic antagonism that exists in society because of socio-economic competition among the social classes or between rich and poor. The form ...
, where the capitalists
exploit Exploit means to take advantage of something (a person, situation, etc.) for one's own end, especially unethically or unjustifiably. Exploit can mean: *Exploitation of natural resources *Exploit (computer security) *Video game exploit *Exploitati ...
the workers, while the workers resist their economic exploitation, which occurs because the worker owns no means of production, and, to earn a living, 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 Capital may refer to: Common uses * Capital city, a municipality of primary status ** List of national capitals, List of national capital cities * Capital letter, an upper-case letter Economics and social sciences * Capital (economics), the dura ...
and
real property In English common law, real property, real estate, immovable property or, solely in the US and Canada, realty, is land which is the property of some person and all structures (also called Land improvement, improvements or Fixture (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 ''The Communist Manifesto'', originally the ''Manifesto of the Communist Party'' (german: Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei), is a political pamphlet written by German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Commissioned by the Commu ...
'', 1848).


France and French-speaking countries

In English, the term ''bourgeoisie'' is often used to denote the middle classes. In fact, the French term encompasses both the upper and middle economic classes, a misunderstanding which has occurred in other languages as well. The bourgeoisie in France and many French-speaking countries consists of five evolving social layers: ''petite bourgeoisie'', ''moyenne bourgeoisie'', ''grande bourgeoisie'', ''haute bourgeoisie'' and ''ancienne bourgeoisie''.


''Petite bourgeoisie''

The ''petite bourgeoisie'' is the equivalent of the modern-day middle class, or refers to "a social class between the middle class and the lower class: the lower middle class".


''Moyenne bourgeoisie''

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. 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 classes.


''Grande bourgeoisie''

The ''grande bourgeoisie'' are families that have been bourgeois since the 19th century, or for at least four or five generations. Members of these families tend to marry with the aristocracy or make other advantageous marriages. This bourgeois 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, roughly equivalent to the British gentry. In the French-speaking countries, they are sometimes .


''Haute bourgeoisie''

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. 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 attempt to be perceived as nobles, taking on such affectations, for example, as avoiding certain marriages or occupations. They differ from nobility only in that because of circumstances, the lack of opportunity, and/or political regime, they have not been ennobled. These people nevertheless live lavishly, 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 Pinçon and Monique Pinçon-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 libérale'', which ''la classe moyenne'', in its definition does not hold. Yet, in English the definition of a white-collar job encompasses the ''profession libérale''.


''Ancienne bourgeoisie''

The ''ancienne bourgeoisie'' is a relatively recent sociological term coined by René Rémond and an additional subcategory in the French language to the "bourgeoisie" caste. In Rémond's preface of "L’ancienne bourgeoisie en France : émergence et permanence d'un groupe social du xvie siècle au xxe siècle“ published by Xavier de Montclos in 2013, he defines ''l’ancienne bourgeoisie'' as follows: "An intermediary social group between the aristocracy and what we would call the middle classes ("les classes moyennes" in French, which does not have the same sociological implications as in English) and which was established between 15th and 16th centuries...These families are for the most part provincial dynasties whose social ascension was accomplished in their region of origin and to which they generally remain attached to, and in which their descendants are still present...These families are deeply rooted in the "Ancien Régime"...They have insured the transmission of their material legacy, as well their convictions and set of values for over 400 and 500 years". Xavier de Montclos goes further by saying that these families acquired their status during the "Ancien Régime", and that they belonged to the town's elite and the upper-crust of the "bourgeoisie" caste. They usually acquired high and important administrative and judicial functions, and distinguished themselves through their success, particularly in business and industry. It was through this distinction that some of these families were able to acquire titles typically associated with the nobility, a caste from which they remained nonetheless excluded.


Nazism

Nazism Nazism ( ; german: Nazismus), the common name in English for National Socialism (german: Nationalsozialismus, ), is the far-right politics, far-right Totalitarianism, totalitarian political ideology and practices associated with Adolf Hit ...
rejected the
Marxist Marxism is a Left-wing politics, left-wing to Far-left politics, far-left method of socioeconomic analysis that uses a Materialism, materialist interpretation of historical development, better known as historical materialism, to understand S ...
concept of internationalist
class struggle Class conflict, also referred to as class struggle and class warfare, is the political tension and economic antagonism that exists in society because of socio-economic competition among the social classes or between rich and poor. The form ...
, but supported the "class struggle between nations", and sought to resolve internal class struggle in the nation while it identified Germany as a nation fighting against
plutocratic A plutocracy () or plutarchy is a society that is ruled or controlled by people of great wealth or income. The first known use of the term in English dates from 1631. Unlike most political systems, plutocracy is not rooted in any established ...
nations. The
Nazi Party The Nazi Party, officially the National Socialist German Workers' Party (german: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP), was a far-right politics, far-right political party in Germany active between 1920 and 1945 that crea ...
had many working-class supporters and members, and a strong appeal to the
middle class The middle class refers to a Social class, class of people in the middle of a social hierarchy, often defined by job, occupation, income, education, or social status. The term has historically been associated with modernity, capitalism and poli ...
. The financial collapse of the white collar middle-class of the 1920s figures much in their strong support of Nazism.Burleigh, Michael. ''The Third Reich: A New History'', New York, USA: Hill and Wang, 2000. p. 77. In the poor country that was the
Weimar Republic The Weimar Republic (german: link=no, Weimarer Republik ), officially named the German Reich, was the government of Germany from 1918 to 1933, during which it was a Constitutional republic, constitutional federal republic for the first time in ...
of the early 1930s, the Nazi Party realised their social policies with food and shelter for the unemployed and the homeless—who were later recruited into the Brownshirt ''
Sturmabteilung The (; SA; literally "Storm Detachment (military), Detachment") was the original paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party. It played a significant role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s. Its primary purposes were providing pro ...
'' (SA – Storm Detachments). Hitler was impressed by the
populist Populism refers to a range of political stances that emphasize the idea of "the people" and often Juxtaposition, juxtapose this group against "elite, the elite". It is frequently associated with anti-establishment and anti-political sentimen ...
antisemitism Antisemitism (also spelled anti-semitism or anti-Semitism) is hostility to, prejudice towards, or discrimination against Jews. A person who holds such positions is called an antisemite. Antisemitism is considered to be a form of racism. Antis ...
and the anti-liberal bourgeois agitation of Karl Lueger, who as the mayor of Vienna during Hitler's time in the city, used a rabble-rousing style of oratory that appealed to the wider masses. When asked whether he supported the "bourgeois right-wing",
Adolf Hitler Adolf Hitler (; 20 April 188930 April 1945) was an Austrian-born German politician who was dictator of Germany Germany,, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central Europe. It is the second most populo ...
claimed that
Nazism Nazism ( ; german: Nazismus), the common name in English for National Socialism (german: Nationalsozialismus, ), is the far-right politics, far-right Totalitarianism, totalitarian political ideology and practices associated with Adolf Hit ...
was not exclusively for any class, and he also indicated that it favoured neither the left nor the
right Rights are law, legal, social, or ethics, ethical principles of Liberty, freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people according to some legal system, social convent ...
, but preserved "pure" elements from both "camps", stating: "From the camp of bourgeois tradition, it takes national resolve, and from the materialism of the Marxist dogma, living, creative Socialism".Adolf Hitler, Max Domarus. ''The Essential Hitler: Speeches and Commentary''. pp. 171, 172–173. Hitler distrusted capitalism for being unreliable due to its egotism, and he preferred a state-directed economy that is subordinated to the interests of the ''
Volk The German noun ''Volk'' () translates to :wikt:people, people, both uncountable in the sense of ''people'' as in a crowd, and countable (plural ''Völker'') in the sense of ''People, a people'' as in an ethnic group or nation (compare the E ...
''. Hitler told a party leader in 1934, "The economic system of our day is the creation of the Jews". Hitler said to
Benito Mussolini Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini (; 29 July 188328 April 1945) was an Italian politician and journalist who founded and led the National Fascist Party. He was Prime Minister of Italy from the March on Rome in 1922 until Fall of the Fascist re ...
that capitalism had "run its course". Hitler also said that the business bourgeoisie "know nothing except their profit. 'Fatherland' is only a word for them." Hitler was personally disgusted with the ruling bourgeois elites of Germany during the period of the Weimar Republic, whom he referred to as "cowardly shits".


Modern history in Italy

Because of their ascribed cultural excellence as a social class, the Italian fascist régime (1922–45) of Prime Minister
Benito Mussolini Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini (; 29 July 188328 April 1945) was an Italian politician and journalist who founded and led the National Fascist Party. He was Prime Minister of Italy from the March on Rome in 1922 until Fall of the Fascist re ...
regarded the bourgeoisie as an obstacle to
Modernism Modernism is both a philosophy, philosophical and arts movement that arose from broad transformations in Western world, Western society during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The movement reflected a desire for the creation of new fo ...
.Bellassai, Sandro (2005) "The Masculine Mystique: Anti-Modernism and Virility in Fascist Italy", ''Journal of Modern Italian Studies'', 3, pp. 314–335. Nonetheless, the Fascist State ideologically exploited the Italian bourgeoisie and their materialistic, middle-class spirit, for the more efficient cultural manipulation of the upper (aristocratic) and the lower (working) classes of Italy. In 1938, Prime Minister Mussolini gave a speech wherein he established a clear ideological distinction between capitalism (the social function of the bourgeoisie) and the bourgeoisie (as a social class), whom he dehumanised by reducing them into high-level abstractions: a moral category and a state of mind. Culturally and philosophically, Mussolini isolated the bourgeoisie from Italian society by portraying them as social parasites upon the fascist Italian state and "The People"; as a social class who drained the human potential of Italian society, in general, and of the working class, in particular; as exploiters who victimised the Italian nation with an approach to life characterised by hedonism and
materialism Materialism is a form of philosophical monism which holds matter to be the fundamental substance in nature, and all things, including mental states A mental state, or a mental property, is a state of mind of a person. Mental states compris ...
. Nevertheless, despite the slogan ''The Fascist Man Disdains the ″Comfortable″ Life'', which epitomised the anti-bourgeois principle, in its final years of power, for mutual benefit and profit, the Mussolini fascist régime transcended ideology to merge the political and financial interests of Prime Minister Benito Mussolini with the political and financial interests of the bourgeoisie, the Catholic social circles who constituted the
ruling class In sociology, the ruling class of a society is the social class who set and decide the political and economic agenda of society. In Marxist philosophy, the ruling class are the capitalist social class who own the means of production and by exten ...
of Italy. Philosophically, as a materialist creature, the bourgeois man was stereotyped as irreligious; thus, to establish an existential distinction between the supernatural faith of the
Roman Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Catholics worldwide . It is among the world's oldest and largest international institutions, and has played a ...
and the materialist faith of temporal religion; in ''The Autarchy of Culture: Intellectuals and Fascism in the 1930s'', the priest Giuseppe Marino said that: Culturally, the bourgeois man may be considered effeminate, infantile, or acting in a pretentious manner; describing his philistinism in ''Bonifica antiborghese'' (1939), Roberto Paravese comments on the: The economic security, financial freedom, and social mobility of the bourgeoisie threatened the philosophic integrity of Italian Fascism, the ideological monolith that was the régime of Prime Minister Benito Mussolini. Any assumption of legitimate political power (government and rule) by the bourgeoisie represented a fascist loss of
totalitarian Totalitarianism is a form of government and a political system that prohibits all opposition parties, outlaws individual and group opposition to the state and its claims, and exercises an extremely high if not complete degree of control and reg ...
state power for social control through political unity—one people, one nation, and one leader. Sociologically, to the fascist man, to become a bourgeois was a character flaw inherent to the masculine mystique; therefore, the ideology of Italian fascism scornfully defined the bourgeois man as "spiritually castrated".


Bourgeois culture


Cultural hegemony

Karl Marx said that the culture of a society is dominated by the mores of the ruling-class, wherein their superimposed
value system In ethics Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of morality, right and wrong action (philosophy), behavior".''Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy'' The field of ...
is abided by each social class (the upper, the middle, the lower) regardless of the socio-economic results it yields to them. In that sense, contemporary societies are bourgeois to the degree that they practice the
mores Mores (, sometimes ; , plural form of singular , meaning "manner, custom, usage, or habit") are social norms that are widely observed within a particular society or culture. Mores determine what is considered morally acceptable or unacceptable ...
of the small-business "shop culture" of early modern France; which the writer Émile Zola (1840–1902) naturalistically presented, analysed, and ridiculed in the twenty-two-novel series (1871–1893) about '' Les Rougon-Macquart'' family; the thematic thrust is the necessity for social progress, by subordinating the economic sphere to the social sphere of life.


Conspicuous consumption

The critical analyses of the bourgeois mentality by the German intellectual Walter Benjamin (1892–1940) indicated that the shop culture of the
petite bourgeoisie ''Petite bourgeoisie'' (, literally 'small bourgeoisie'; also anglicised as petty bourgeoisie) is a French term that refers to a social class composed of semi-autonomous peasants and small-scale merchants whose politico-economic ideological sta ...
established the sitting room as the centre of personal and family life; as such, the English bourgeois culture is, he alleges, a sitting-room culture of prestige through conspicuous consumption. The
material culture Material culture is the aspect of social reality grounded in the objects and architecture Architecture is the art and technique of designing and building, as distinguished from the skills associated with construction. It is both the proces ...
of the bourgeoisie concentrated on mass-produced
luxury goods In economics, a luxury good (or upmarket good) is a good (economics), good for which demand (economics), demand increases more than what is proportional as income rises, so that expenditures on the good become a greater proportion of overall spend ...
of high quality; between generations, the only variance was the materials with which the goods were manufactured. In the early part of the 19th century, the bourgeois house contained a home that first was stocked and decorated with hand-painted
porcelain Porcelain () is a ceramic material made by heating Chemical substance, substances, generally including materials such as kaolinite, in a kiln to temperatures between . The strength and translucence of porcelain, relative to other types of pot ...
, machine-printed cotton fabrics, machine-printed
wallpaper Wallpaper is a material used in interior decoration to decorate the interior walls of domestic and public buildings. It is usually sold in rolls and is applied onto a wall using wallpaper paste. Wallpapers can come plain as "lining paper" (so t ...
, and Sheffield steel ( crucible and stainless). The
utility As a topic of economics Economics () is the social science that studies the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics), consumption of goods and services. Economics focuses ...
of these things was inherent in their practical functions. By the latter part of the 19th century, the bourgeois house contained a home that had been remodelled by conspicuous consumption. Here, Benjamin argues, the goods were bought to display wealth ( discretionary income), rather than for their practical utility. The bourgeoisie had transposed the wares of the shop window to the sitting room, where the clutter of display signalled bourgeois success. Walter Benjamin, ''The Halles Project''. (See: '' Culture and Anarchy'', 1869.) Two spatial constructs manifest the bourgeois mentality: (i) the shop-window display, and (ii) the sitting room. In English, the term "sitting-room culture" is synonymous for "bourgeois mentality", a " philistine" cultural perspective from the
Victorian Era In the history of the United Kingdom and the British Empire, the Victorian era was the period of Queen Victoria's reign, from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. The era followed the Georgian era, Georgian period and preceded ...
(1837–1901), especially characterised by the repression of emotion and of sexual desire; and by the construction of a regulated social-space where " propriety" is the key personality trait desired in men and women. Nonetheless, from such a psychologically constricted , regarding the rearing of children, contemporary sociologists claim to have identified "progressive" middle-class values, such as respect for non-conformity, self-direction,
autonomy In developmental psychology and morality, moral, political, and bioethics, bioethical philosophy, autonomy, from , ''autonomos'', from αὐτο- ''auto-'' "self" and νόμος ''nomos'', "law", hence when combined understood to mean "one who g ...
,
gender equality Gender equality, also known as sexual equality or equality of the sexes, is the state of equal ease of access to resources and opportunities regardless of gender, including economic participation and decision-making; and the state of valuing d ...
and the encouragement of innovation; as in the Victorian Era, the transposition to the US of the bourgeois system of social values has been identified as a requisite for employment success in the professions. Bourgeois values are dependent on
rationalism In philosophy, rationalism is the epistemology, epistemological view that "regards reason as the chief source and test of knowledge" or "any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification".Lacey, A.R. (1996), ''A Dictionary o ...
, which began with the economic sphere and moves into every sphere of life which is formulated by Max Weber. The beginning of rationalism is commonly called the Age of Reason. Much like the Marxist critics of that period, Weber was concerned with the growing ability of large corporations and nations to increase their power and reach throughout the world.


Satire and criticism in art

Beyond the
intellectual An intellectual is a person who engages in critical thinking, research, and reflection about the reality of society, and who proposes solutions for the normative problems of society. Coming from the world of culture Culture () is ...
realms of
political economy Political economy is the study of how Macroeconomics, economic systems (e.g. Marketplace, markets and Economy, national economies) and Politics, political systems (e.g. law, Institution, institutions, government) are linked. Widely studied ph ...
, history, and
political science Political science is the science, scientific study of politics. It is a social science dealing with systems of governance and power, and the analysis of politics, political activities, political thought, political behavior, and associated c ...
that discuss, describe, and analyse the ''bourgeoisie'' as a social class, the colloquial usage of the sociological terms ''bourgeois'' and ''bourgeoise'' describe the social
stereotype In social psychology, a stereotype is a generalized belief about a particular category of people. It is an expectation that people might have about every person of a particular group. The type of expectation can vary; it can be, for example ...
s of the old money and of the '' nouveau riche'', who is a politically timid conformist satisfied with a wealthy, consumerist style of life characterised by conspicuous consumption and the continual striving for prestige. This being the case, the cultures of the world describe the philistinism of the middle-class personality, produced by the excessively rich life of the bourgeoisie, is examined and analysed in comedic and dramatic plays, novels, and films. (See: Authenticity.) The term bourgeoisie has been used as a pejorative and a term of abuse since the 19th century, particularly by intellectuals and artists.


Theatre

'' Le Bourgeois gentilhomme'' (The Would-be Gentleman, 1670) by (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin), is a comedy-ballet that satirises Monsieur Jourdain, the prototypical nouveau riche man who buys his way up the social-class scale, to realise his aspirations of becoming a gentleman, to which end he studies dancing, fencing, and philosophy, the trappings and accomplishments of a gentleman, to be able to pose as a man of noble birth, someone who, in 17th-century France, was a man to the manor born; Jourdain's self-transformation also requires managing the private life of his daughter, so that her marriage can also assist his social ascent.


Literature

'' Buddenbrooks'' (1901), by
Thomas Mann Paul Thomas Mann ( , ; ; 6 June 1875 – 12 August 1955) was a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist, and the 1929 Nobel Prize in Literature laureate. His highly symbolic and ironic epic novels and novella ...
(1875–1955), chronicles the
moral A moral (from Latin ''morālis'') is a message that is conveyed or a lesson to be learned from a narrative, story or wikt:event, event. The moral may be left to the hearer, reader, or viewer to determine for themselves, or may be explicitly enca ...
, intellectual, and physical decay of a rich family through its declines, material and spiritual, in the course of four generations, beginning with the
patriarch The highest-ranking bishops in Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, the Catholic Church (above major archbishop and primate (bishop), primate), the Hussite Church, Church of the East, and some Independent Catholicism, Independent Catholic Chur ...
Johann Buddenbrook Sr. and his son, Johann Buddenbrook Jr., who are typically successful German businessmen; each is a reasonable man of solid character. Yet, in the children of Buddenbrook Jr., the materially comfortable style of life provided by the dedication to solid, middle-class values elicits decadence: The fickle daughter, Toni, lacks and does not seek a purpose in life; son Christian is honestly decadent, and lives the life of a ne'er-do-well; and the businessman son, Thomas, who assumes command of the Buddenbrook family fortune, occasionally falters from middle-class solidity by being interested in art and philosophy, the impractical life of the mind, which, to the bourgeoisie, is the epitome of social, moral, and material decadence. '' Babbitt'' (1922), by Sinclair Lewis (1885–1951), satirizes the American bourgeois George Follansbee Babbitt, a middle-aged realtor, booster, and joiner in the Midwestern city of Zenith, who – despite being unimaginative, self-important, and hopelessly conformist and middle-class – is aware that there must be more to life than money and the consumption of the best things that money can buy. Nevertheless, he fears being excluded from the mainstream of society more than he does living for himself, by being true to himself – his heart-felt flirtations with independence (dabbling in liberal politics and a love affair with a pretty widow) come to naught because he is existentially afraid. Yet, George F. Babbitt sublimates his desire for self-respect, and encourages his son to rebel against the conformity that results from bourgeois prosperity, by recommending that he be true to himself:


Films

Many of the satirical films by the Spanish film director Luis Buñuel (1900–1983) examine the mental and moral effects of the bourgeois mentality, its culture, and the stylish way of life it provides for its practitioners. * '' L'Âge d'or'' (''The Golden Age'', 1930) illustrates the madness and self-destructive hypocrisy of bourgeois society. * '' Belle de Jour'' (''Beauty of the day'', 1967) tells the story of a bourgeois wife who is bored with her marriage and decides to prostitute herself. * '' Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie'' (''The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie'', 1972) explores the timidity instilled by middle-class values. * '' Cet obscur objet du désir'' (''That Obscure Object of Desire'', 1977) illuminates the practical self-deceptions required for buying love as marriage.


See also


References


Works cited

* * * * * *


Further reading

* Bledstein, Burton J. and Johnston, Robert D. (eds.
''The Middling Sorts: Explorations in the History of the American Middle Class''
Routledge. 2001. * Brooks, David
''Bobos In Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There''
Simon & Schuster. 2001. * Byrne, Frank J
''Becoming Bourgeois: Merchant Culture in the South, 1820–1865''
University Press of Kentucky. 2006. * Cousin, Bruno and Sébastien Chauvin (2021)
"Is there a global super-bourgeoisie?"
''Sociology Compass'', vol. 15, issue 6, pp. 1–15
online
*Hunt, Margaret R
''The Middling Sort: Commerce, Gender, and the Family in England, 1680–1780''
University of California Press. 1996. * Lockwood, David
''Cronies or Capitalists? The Russian Bourgeoisie and the Bourgeois Revolution from 1850 to 1917''
Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 2009. * Siegel, Jerrold
''Bohemian Paris: Culture, Politics, and the Boundaries of Bourgeois Life, 1830–1930''
The Johns Hopkins University Press. 1999. * Stern, Robert W
''Changing India: Bourgeois Revolution on the Subcontinent''
Cambridge University Press. 2nd edition, 2003.


External links



– A Critique of Bourgeois Sovereignty {{Authority control Marxist terminology Sociology of culture Middle class Upper class Estates (social groups)