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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Petit-bourgeois (sometimes Anglicized petty bourgeois) is a French term that originally referred to the members of the lower middle social classes in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

Starting from the mid-19th century, the term was used by Karl Marx and Marxist theorists to refer to a social class that included 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, the petty is different from the haute bourgeoisie, or capitalist class, who own the means of production and buy the labor-power of others to work it. Though the petite bourgeois may buy the labor power of others, in contrast to the haute bourgeoisie, they typically work alongside their own employees; and although they generally own their own businesses, they do not own a controlling share of the means of production. More important, the means of production in the hands of the petite bourgeoisie do not generate enough surplus to be reinvested in production; as such, they cannot be reproduced in an amplified scale, or accumulated, and do not constitute capital properly. In modern usage "petite bourgeoisie", a class that lies between the workingmen and the capitalists, is often used, usually derisively, to refer to the consumption habits and tastes of the middle class and the lower middle class in particular.[citation needed] However, Marxist terminology relates the petite bourgeoisie exclusively to its relationship to the means of production and work rather than to tastes, habits of consumption, or lifestyle (Because of the Marxist definition of class).


  • Andrews, G. J. and Phillips D R (2005) Petit Bourgeois healthcare? The big small-business of private complementary medical practice Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice 11, 87-104
  • F. Bechhofer and B. Elliott, Persistence and change the petit bourgeoisie in the industrial society , Eur J Soc xv 11 (1976), pp. 74–79.
  • B. Elliott and G. McCrone, What else does someone with capital do?, New Soc 31 (1979), pp. 512–513.
  • F. Bechhofer and B. Elliott, The petite Bourgeoisie comparative studies of an uneasy stratum , Macmillan, London (1981).
  • R. Scase and R. Goffee, The real world of the small business owner, Croom Helm, London (1981).
  • D.R. Phillips and J. Vincent, Petit Bourgeois Care private residential care for the elderly , Policy Politics 14 (1986) (2), pp. 189–208.

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