Word of the Day: Bourgeois

By Maeve Maddox

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Bourgeois (bʊr-zhwä’) is an adjective that refers to people who own property. The collective noun for such people is bourgeoisie. In the terminology of economics, the bourgeoisie is the opposite of the proletariat which is made up of the laboring class. In popular usage bourgeois describes a conservative attitude towards life that values conformity to the status quo.

We are all intrinsically fascinated by property. John Galsworthy’s The Man of Property, the first installment of The Forsyte Saga, recognised property as the sine qua non of the true bourgeois. (The Australian)

Wage-labour rests exclusively on competition between the labourers. The advance of industry, whose involuntary promoter is the bourgeoisie, replaces the isolation of the labourers, due to competition, by their involuntary combination, due to association. The development of Modern Industry, therefore, cuts from under its feet the very foundation on which the bourgeoisie produces and appropriates products. What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. (Karl Marx)

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2 Responses to “Word of the Day: Bourgeois”

  • jagan

    doesn’t it mean people belonging to middle class?

  • Maeve

    Yes, when thinking of society as being divided into three economic classes of working class, property owning class, and extremely wealthy class, the bourgeoisie are the middle class.

    From my observations, in the U.S., where 90% of the wealth is owned by 10% of the population, most people seem to think of themselves as belonging to the “middle class.”

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