Marxists use the French word bourgeoisie to refer to the capitalist class or those who hold the majority of the capital. In this sense, capital refers more broadly to the resources needed for manufacturing than just accessible cash.
Bourgeoisie Sociology Definition


Marxists use the French word bourgeoisie to refer to the capitalist class or those who hold the majority of the capital. In this sense, capital refers more broadly to the resources needed for manufacturing than just accessible cash.

Marx argues that the bourgeoisie is not just an economic elite but also a governing class in capitalist countries due to their ownership. In other words, access to political power comes from economic power.


The term “bourgeoisie” is often used to describe the middle class in terms of views of materialism.

Originally a sixteenth-century French phrase referring to the group of urban freemen, the term capitalist class later began to be used interchangeably, particularly among Marxists. The owners of the means of production are referred to as capitalists in current use, albeit the phrase has become doctrinaire and seems a little out of date due to the “decomposition of capital.”

Historical materialism is a theoretical school of thought in sociology credited with its origins in Engels and Marx. According to this viewpoint, the main factor determining social stratification is economic power, and class conflicts have shaped all previously existent civilizations throughout their histories. The dominant social classes are classes that Engels and Marx spent the most time studying were the bourgeois and the proletariat.

More specifically, classical historical materialism proposed several trends that were purportedly inherent in any society where the means of production—such as factories and machines, which are considered capital goods—were privately owned and where there were free markets for labor, capital, and consumer goods. The “universal rule of capitalist accumulation” states that as long as capitalism is practiced, more wealth will have accumulated, which will increase profits for capital owners (the bourgeoisie) while degrading living circumstances for those who depend on their work for a livelihood (the proletariat).

According to sociology, the middle or upper middle class is referred to as the bourgeoisie. Because of their wealth and significant cultural and financial capital, they are distinct from and usually contrasted with the proletariat. They are referred to collectively as “the bourgeoisie” and may be further broken down into the petty (petite), middle (moyenne), big (grande), upper (haute), and ancient (ancienne) bourgeoisie.

French bourgeoisie

Petite, Medium, Grande, Haute, and Ancienne bourgeoisie are the five social classes that make up the bourgeoisie in France and many other nations that speak French.

Petite bourgeoisie

This is often known as “a social class between the middle class and the lower class: the lower middle class,” is the modern-day counterpart of the middle class.

Moyenne bourgeoisie

This is often known as the middle class, which comprises individuals who are financially secure and own material possessions but lack the prestige of those who have attained a higher status. They often come from a family that has been bourgeois for three generations or more.

Grande bourgeoisie

Families that have been bourgeois since the nineteenth century, or for at least four or five generations, are considered this type of bourgeoisie. Members of these families often marry members of the nobility or get into other favorable unions. Over the years, this bourgeois family has amassed a well-established historical and cultural legacy.

Haute bourgeoisie

Social standing in this bourgeoisie can only be attained through time.

It comprises bourgeois families in France who have been around since the French Revolution. They solely work in honorable professions and have a long history of famous unions in their family. Their financial resources are more than solid, and they have rich cultural and historical heritages.

Ancienne bourgeoisie

René Rémond recently developed the sociological phrase “ancienne bourgeoisie,” which adds another caste to the English word “bourgeoisie.”

Karl Marx and Bourgeoisie

Karl Marx argued that “bourgeoisie” does not always refer to “wealthy people.” It is undoubtedly true that many bourgeoisie members—both then and now—were and are affluent due to their capacity to make money off of the work of others, but control—rather than wealth—is what Marx’s bourgeoisie is most known for. Marx identified the following traits as belonging to the bourgeoisie:

  • They hold a portion of the manufacturing equipment (like a factory).
  • Compared to the proletariat, they are far less numerous.
  • They either make very little or no effort to produce items.
  • They use proletarian workers to make products.
  • The bulk of the earnings from the labor of their employees goes to them.
  • For the objects they create, they pay their employees a salary.

This is how capitalism operated at its most basic level throughout Marx’s historical period. Most people still labor for pay to create products or services for a tiny number of people who own and control the means of production; hence it is still relevant today.

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