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Petite bourgeoisie

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Petit-bourgeois or Anglicised petty bourgeois is a French term that referred to the members of the lower middle social-classes. They were seen as servants of the bourgeois class who in turn were seen as servants of the aristocracy. In the context of a perceived oppressive system, the bourgeoisie denoted a label of someone in collaboration with the ruling aristocracy's lieutenants.

The term was used by Karl Marx and Marxist theorists to refer to a class of people that would include shop-keepers and professionals. Though distinct from the ordinary working class and the lumpenproletariat, who rely entirely on the sale of their labor-power for survival, they remain members of the proletariat rather than the haute bourgeoisie, or capitalist class, who own the means of production and buy the labor-power of others to work it. Though the petty bourgeois do buy the labor power of others, in contrast to the bourgeoisie they typically work alongside their own employees; although they generally own their own businesses, they do not own a controlling share of the means of production.

The subject has recently been popularised by the motion picture American Beauty, by British director Sam Mendes, describing life in American suburbia.

See also

Last updated: 08-02-2005 15:28:37
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