Bourgeoisie

Entertainment / Literature / Bourgeoisie: (French, 'city-dwelling') The French term bourgeoisie is a noun referring to the non-aristocratic middle-class, while the word bourgeois is the adjective-form. Calling something bourgeois implies that something is middle-class in its tendencies or values. Marxist literary critics use the term in a specialized sense to indicate the comfortable, well-to-do class of consumers that have more status than the proletariat, the lower-class workers who perform the 'real' work of a civilization in actually producing goods and materials. In another sense--one particularly useful for medieval historians--the term bourgeoisie encompasses the city-dwelling yeomen in the late medieval period who were no longer tied to agricultural work as enfeoffed serfs. These city-dwellers--including craftsmen, guildsmen, traders, and skilled laborers--worked on a capitalistic model in which goods and services would be provided in exchange for cash. Though to a modern American this arangement seems normal enough, it was a revolutionary concept in a feudal society where transactions took place in barter, where most male citizens would swear loyalty to a liege lord in exchange for land or protection, and where serfs were bound to a section of land as the 'property' of their feudal overlord. It was also a departure from the traditional 'Three Estates' theory of government sanctioned by the church. The increasing number of bourgeois workers in cities and the diminishing number of serfs working in rural areas marked the transition from feudalism to modernity. Indeed, many of these so-called 'middle class' citizens were fantastically wealthy--far richer in terms of their liquid assets than the knights and minor nobility who were their social 'betters.' The aristocrats attempted to distinguish themselves by the use of heraldic symbols, last-names, and sumptuary laws that made it illegal for 'commoners' (no matter how rich) to wear particular types of clothing or jewelry.

Aristocracy

Technology / Television (TV) / Aristocracy: In Marxism, the most elite social class--consisting of individuals who do not work, and hold power through inheritance: kings, queens, princes, princesses, and so on. According to Marx's analysis of h MORE

Proletariat

Technology / Television (TV) / Proletariat: In Marxist terms, the working class: this least powerful group works to survive, selling its labor to the bourgeoisie. MORE

Guild

Entertainment / Literature / Guild: A medieval organization that combined the qualities of a union, a vocational school, a trading corporation, and product regulations committee for the bourgeoisie. These associations of merchants, arti MORE

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