what/who exactly is the bourgeoisie?


what/who exactly is the bourgeoisie?

In: 3097

From Old French, the word *bourgeois* meant “town-dweller,” and *bourgeoisie* was the ~~plural~~ collective noun. So, at one point, it meant those who lived in the walled market-towns of the age, with the peasants and farmers, living outside the city, relegated to another social stratum.

During this time period, the term referred to craftsmen and artisans — those existing between the peasants and the landlords, who weren’t quite “on top,” but existed in the middle: the ancient middle class.

Nowadays, however, with the ideas of Karl Marx firmly entrenched in the academic space, *bourgeoisie* has come to refer to the economic ruling class; those who own the means of production and exploit the *proletariat,* or the working class — those who own, and can sell, nothing but their own labor.

You also see reference sometimes to the *petite bourgeoisie*; this is most similar to the Middle Ages understanding of the term.

Marxist terms have been used by so many different groups that the terms mean different things to different people. Though this term does not originate in Marxist context it is the context it is most often used today.

Most simply, the bourgeoisie are the people that own means of production. That means the people who own factories and specialized equipment to make money.

Many modern Americans would use the term only to refer to the upper class, 1%, etc. but many people in the middle or lower class could be considered bourgeoisie. A farmer who owns their field and equipment like tractors wouldn’t be considered such by modern standards, but because they own a means of production they are part of the bourgeoisie.

This is to contrast with the proletariat, who only own their ability to work and not any other means is production. An insurance agent working for a company might have a higher income than a farmer, but because the insurance agent can only make money by their own labor they are proletariat. The farmer could stop working themselves and still make money by renting out their land and tools, so they are bourgeoisie.

In its original sense, the bourgeoisie were the middle class of pre-revolutionary France: not nobility or priests, but not what we would now call working-class either. They used to teach that the primary examples would be the owners of shops or factories, except, again, for nobilty. If you’ve read Les Miserables, Jean Valjean’s post-prison identity of Monseiur Madeleine would have been considered bourgeoisie (by those who don’t know his background, anyway, but he kept his past a secret, so that means most of the cast).

The US doesn’t have hereditary nobility or a state religion, so in theory the bourgeoisie would, by that old sense, just be anyone who owns a business or collects rent. This doesn’t play well to the voter bases of most people who use the term “bourgeoisie” in a modern context, though, so it has morphed into a nore general “the rich”.

There are some good answers here. In short, it used to mean “middle class.” Today it still means that, by definition, but it’s used more to describe the elite wealthy who own the businesses that others work at for a wage. Used to be middle class, now it’s top 1-10%.

Some people are communist (myself included) they disagree with how the world is run today. Communists get lots of ideas ideas from a very old man that looks like Santa called Karl Marx. When you hear the word bourgeoisie it will usually mean what Karl Marx meant when he talked about it.

He said it means “People that own the means of production”. The means of production is basically the tools used to make things, like factory machines.