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Articles: Épater les bourgeois
From the late Middle Ages to the the enlightenment era, the bourgeoisie rose as patrons to the arts, a role which had been previously played by the courts. The popular market for art and literature liberated writers and artists. But the bourgeoisie were never without their detractors; narrowmindedness, materialism, hypocrisy, opposition to change, and lack of culture were a few of the negative characteristics attributed to them. The word bourgeois took on negative connotations, from which it still suffers today. [May 2006]
Film: The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie (1972) - Luis Buñuel
Bourgeois in modern use refers to the wealthy classes in a capitalist society. It is a French word, derived from the Italian borghesia (from borgo, village, in turn from Greek pyrgos). A borghese, then, was a freeman of a burgh or town. The word evolved to mean merchants and traders, and later on referred to all persons in the broad socioeconomic spectrum between nobility and serfs.
In the early medieval age, as cities were forming and growing, artisans and tradesmen begin to emerge as an economic force. They formed guilds and companies to conduct business and promote their own interests. These people became the bourgeoisie. In the late Middle Ages, they combined with elements of the nobility in uprooting feudalism, and they became the ruling class. In the 17th and 18th century, they supported the American revolution and French revolution in uprooting nobility.
Concepts such as personal liberties, religious and civil rights, and the freedom to live and trade all derive from bourgeois philosophies.
But the bourgeoisie were never without their detractors; narrowmindedness, materialism, hypocrisy, opposition to change, and lack of culture were a few of the negative characteristics attributed to them by Moliere and others. The word took on negative connotations, from which it still suffers today. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bourgeoisie [May 2005]
Rise of the bourgeoisie
In the early Middle Ages, as cities were forming, growing and emerging, artisans and tradesmen began to emerge as an economic force. They formed guilds, associations and companies to conduct business and promote their own interests. These people were the original bourgeoisie. In the late Middle Ages, they allied with the kings in uprooting the feudalist system, gradually becoming the ruling class in industrialised nation-states. In the 17th and 18th century, they generally supported the American revolution and French revolution in overthrowing the laws and privileges of the absolutist feudal order, clearing the way for the rapid expansion of commerce.
Concepts such as personal liberties, religious and civil rights, and free trade all derive from bourgeois philosophies. But the bourgeoisie was never without its critics; it was first accused of narrow-mindedness, materialism, hypocrisy, opposition to change, and lack of culture, among other things, by persons such as the playwright Molière. The earliest recorded pejorative uses of the term "bourgeois" are associated with aristocratic contempt for the lifestyle of the bourgeoisie. Successful embourgeoisement typically meant being able to retire and live on invested income.
With the expansion of commerce, trade and the market economy, the bourgeoisie grew in size, influence and power. In all industrialized countries, the aristocracy either faded away slowly or found itself overthrown by a bourgeois revolution. Thus the bourgeoisie rose to the top of the social hierarchy. This, coupled with the advances of industry, resulted in the birth of an entirely new lower class, the proletariat or working class. And, increasingly, criticisms of the bourgeoisie began to come from below. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bourgeoisie#Rise_of_the_bourgeoisie [Apr 2006]
In Marxist discourse
In Karl Marx's class struggle theories, bourgeoisie is defined as the class in a commodity-producing capitalist society which owns the means of production; the term is effectively the same as "capitalists." However, Marx himself distinguished between "functioning capitalists" actually managing enterprises, and "mere coupon-clippers" earning property rents or interest-income. Marxism sees the proletariat (wage laborers) and bourgeoisie as directly waging an ongoing competition, in that capitalists exploit workers and workers try to resist exploitation.
In the rhetoric of several Communist parties, "bourgeois" becomes an insult; those who are perceived to collaborate with the bourgeoisie are often called its lackeys, but Marx himself primarily used the term "bourgeois" as an objective description of a social class and of a lifestyle, not as a pejorative. He admired its industriousness but excoriated it for moral hypocrisy.
Still, the use of the word by Marx's followers reinforced the word's prior negative connotations. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bourgeoisie [May 2005]
Bohemian Versus Bourgeois (1964) - César Graña
Bohemian Versus Bourgeois: French society and the French man of letters in the nineteenth century (1964) - César Graña [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
It's in this book that one finds references to the group of French artists les bousingots, which is rendered bousignots in the index. Web references to this groups include: "Hugnet, Georges, 1906-1974. Bousignots, excentriques et isolés du romanisme, typed manuscript with handwritten corrections together with signed typed letter 1954 Oct. from L. Mollion of Radiodiffusion Français, nd -- 94.4". The book itself references Théophile Lavallée's Histoire de Paris depuis le temps des Gaulois jusqu'en 1850 published by J. Hetzel, Paris, 1852. [Feb 2007]
César Graña (1919 - 1986) was a Peruvian anthropologist who received his Ph.D. of sociology from the University of California. In 1942, he came to the United States.
César Graña's best known work was based on the sociology of art. He wrote Bohemia vs. Bourgeois: French Society and the French Man of Letters in the Nineteenth Century, which was published in 1964, this work is also known as Modernity and its Discontents. In 1989, he released Meaning and Authenticity. On Bohemia: The Code of the Self Exiled was published in 1990. In 1994, Fact and Symbol was published and it was nominated for a National Book Award. Graña died on August 24, 1986 in a car crash. --
In the 1830s “bohemia” made its first full-dress appearance in Henri Murger’s Vie de Bohème. The writers and artists who called themselves by this name had taken it from the gypsies in part of the Habsburg domain—wanderers regarded as colorful outcasts from society. Parisian bohemia enthusiastically identified with these anti-bourgeois vagrants. Unlike the real ostracism endured by gypsies, the outcast state of the Parisian artistic fraternity would be voluntary—but they were determined to be as outcast as possible.
In his 1964 study Bohemian Versus Bourgeois César Graña shows how they claimed a more natural sympathy with other cultures than the bourgeoisie could possibly possess. They regarded the lives of the French commercial and professional classes as utterly degrading. Graña describes Stendhal’s horror of the lowness and meanness of the middle-class, and how “anyone who acquired a routine social obligation or worked at a profession received from Flaubert either casual scorn or mocking sorrow”.
This same contempt for the routine world of paid employment was pushed to an extreme by Baudelaire, whose attitude—“to be a useful person has always appeared to me to be something particularly horrible”—expressed pure aristocratic disdain.
Flaubert’s hatred for the bourgeois was at times almost maniacal. After completing his second novel Salammbo in 1862 he wrote that “It will: 1) annoy the bourgeois; 2) unnerve and shock sensitive people; 3) anger the archaeologists; 4) be unintelligible to the ladies; 5) earn me a reputation as a pederast and a cannibal. Let us hope so.” While research into sexual behavior is a normal part of anthropological inquiry, it was a personal interest in erotic experience—romantically justified as self-fulfilment—which drove literary bohemia on its escapades. -- Roger Sandall via http://www.culturecult.com/culturecult/bohemia.htm [Jun 2006]
See also: Flaubert - bohemia - bourgeois - genre theory
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