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Durham e-Theses
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Bourgeois and bourgeoisie from 1789 – 1844: a study in the evolution of French political theory

Gruner, Shirley M. (1967) Bourgeois and bourgeoisie from 1789 – 1844: a study in the evolution of French political theory. Masters thesis, Durham University.



This thesis deals with the evolution of the words “bourgeois” and “bourgeoisies” as terms in French social and political theory from 1789 to 1844. Firstly, it analyses the use of the words in the French Revolution. Two meanings are shown to develop during this period, one to denote a small aristocracy of the rich and the other to denote the mass of citizens. Secondly, the development of the words by the liberals is considered when the terms come to refer to the industrial class, i.e. the class which has discovered new means of production and thereby the basis for a new peaceful and prosperous society. Thirdly, the ideas of Saint-Simon are considered and it is shown that he created a new definition whereby the bourgeoisie is regarded as a small group of idlers. A study of the Saint-Simonists shows that they extended this definition to mean the idler and non-productive class owing all the instruments of production. Moreover, in the 1830’s, it came to mean all the owners of the means of production whether idler or not, in other words, the capitalists. In addition, however, the terms became associated with certain moral attributes such as egoism, greed, and selfishness. This line was especially developed by the communists. Finally, the last popular definition is shown to be that of the Fourierist. They stated that the bourgeoisic was the extensive middle class due for extinction in the hands of the new financial aristocracy. In the conclusion, it is pointed out the terms vary in meaning according to the social theory used and do not denote a social group in the same way as, say, the terms “shopkeepers”, “doctors”. Consequently, if they are not expressly related to some theory, they can refer to any of a large number of different things.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1967
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Mar 2014 16:07

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