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Bourgeoisie vs. Bourgeois — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on August 24, 2023
"Bourgeoisie" refers to the middle class, typically with reference to its perceived values or materialism, while "bourgeois" can be an adjective describing something as middle-class or a noun referring to a middle-class person.
Bourgeoisie vs. Bourgeois — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Bourgeoisie and Bourgeois

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Key Differences

"Bourgeoisie" and "bourgeois" both originate from French, addressing concepts of class, specifically the middle class. The term "bourgeoisie" typically denotes the entire middle class as a collective, especially in historical or Marxist contexts. On the other hand, "bourgeois" can serve as both an adjective and a noun. As an adjective, "bourgeois" describes things pertaining to or characteristic of the middle class, often hinting at its conventional values or materialistic tendencies. When used as a noun, it refers to an individual of the middle class.
Tayyaba Rehman
Aug 24, 2023
It's important to note the cultural implications both terms carry. "Bourgeoisie" often surfaces in socio-economic discourses, highlighting the class between the proletariat (working class) and the aristocracy or ruling elite. "Bourgeois" can sometimes bear a slightly pejorative tone, suggesting a person's preoccupation with material wealth or conventionalism.
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Aug 24, 2023
The distinction between "bourgeoisie" and "bourgeois" lies primarily in their grammatical usage. The former refers broadly to a class group, while the latter zooms in on the characteristics or individuals of that group. The nuances of both terms have been shaped significantly by historical, economic, and cultural dialogues.
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Aug 24, 2023

Comparison Chart

Type

Noun
Noun & Adjective
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Refers to

The middle class as a whole.
An individual of the middle class or a characteristic of them.
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Historical Context

Often used in Marxist contexts.
Less specific to Marxist dialogues.
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Connotation

Neutral, but can be critical in specific contexts.
Often neutral, but can be derogatory in some contexts.
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Grammatical Use

Collective term for a class.
Descriptive or referring to an individual
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Compare with Definitions

Bourgeoisie

The middle class of society.
The rise of the bourgeoisie was a major factor in the French Revolution.
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Bourgeois

Relating to or characteristic of the middle class.
Her tastes were decidedly bourgeois.
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Bourgeoisie

A social class traditionally made up of professionals, manufacturers, and merchants.
The bourgeoisie held considerable influence in 19th-century Europe.
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Bourgeois

Holding values associated with materialism and conventionalism.
Some criticized him for his bourgeois aspirations.
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Bourgeoisie

A class that stands between the proletariat and the elite in Marxist theory.
Marx believed the bourgeoisie controlled the means of production.
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Bourgeois

Belonging to the middle class
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May 12, 2018

Bourgeoisie

(historical) A class of citizens who were wealthier members of the third estate.
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Bourgeois

A person of any class with bourgeois (i.e., overly conventional and materialistic) values and attitudes.
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Bourgeoisie

Those who value material wealth and conventionalism.
The bourgeoisie often prioritized stability and financial security.
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Bourgeois

A member of the middle class
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May 12, 2018

Bourgeoisie

In Marxist theory, the social group opposed to the proletariat in the class struggle.
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Bourgeois

(according to Marxist thought) being of the property-owning class and exploitive of the working class
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Bourgeoisie

The capitalist class in Marxist contexts.
The struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat is central to Marxist theory.
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Aug 24, 2023

Bourgeois

Lacking in artistic or intellectual qualities; banal.
Critics dismissed the painting as bourgeois.
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Bourgeoisie

The Bourgeoisie (; French: [buʁʒwazi] (listen)) is a sociologically defined social class, equivalent to the middle or upper middle class. They are distinguished from, and traditionally contrasted with, the proletariat by their relative affluence, and their cultural and financial capital.
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May 12, 2018

Bourgeois

A person belonging to the middle class.
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Bourgeoisie

The middle class.
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Bourgeois

A person whose attitudes and behavior are marked by conformity to the standards and conventions of the middle class.
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Bourgeoisie

(Marxism) The capitalist class.
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Bourgeois

In Marxist theory, a member of the property-owning class; a capitalist.
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May 12, 2018

Bourgeoisie

The social class between the lower and upper classes
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May 12, 2018

Bourgeois

Of, relating to, or typical of the middle class, especially in holding conventional attitudes and materialistic values.
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Bourgeoisie

The French middle class, particularly such as are concerned in, or dependent on, trade.
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Bourgeois

Of or relating to the middle class, their presumed overly conventional, conservative, and materialistic values.
Bourgeois opinion
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Bourgeois

(historical) Of or relating to the bourgeoisie, the third estate of the French Ancien Regime.
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Bourgeois

(Marxism) Of or relating to the capitalist class, the capitalist exploitation of the proletariat.
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Bourgeois

The middle class.
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Bourgeois

(rare) An individual member of the middle class.
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Bourgeois

(history) An individual member of the bourgeoisie, the third estate of the French Ancien Regime.
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Bourgeois

(Marxism) A capitalist, an exploiter of the proletariat.
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Bourgeois

A size of type between brevier and long primer, standardized as 9-point.
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Bourgeois

(transitive) To make bourgeois.
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Bourgeois

A size of type between long primer and brevier. See Type.
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Bourgeois

A man of middle rank in society; one of the shopkeeping class.
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Bourgeois

Characteristic of the middle class, as in France.
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Bourgeois

A capitalist who engages in industrial commercial enterprise
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Bourgeois

Conforming to the standards and conventions of the middle class;
A bourgeois mentality
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Bourgeois

Concerned primarily with property values and conventional respectability.
The novel critiqued bourgeois morality.
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Common Curiosities

What does "bourgeoisie" primarily refer to?

"Bourgeoisie" primarily denotes the middle class, especially in socio-economic contexts.
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Aug 24, 2023

Can "bourgeois" be both a noun and an adjective?

Yes, "bourgeois" can describe something as middle-class or refer to a middle-class person.
Tayyaba Rehman
Aug 24, 2023

Can "bourgeois" be considered derogatory?

In some contexts, "bourgeois" can be derogatory, suggesting superficiality or materialism.
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Aug 24, 2023

Where do the terms "bourgeoisie" and "bourgeois" originate?

Both terms have French origins and pertain to the concept of the middle class.
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Aug 24, 2023

In Marxist theory, how is "bourgeoisie" viewed?

In Marxism, the "bourgeoisie" is seen as the capitalist class controlling the means of production.
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Is "bourgeoisie" always used in a negative sense?

Not always, but it can be critical in specific Marxist or socio-political contexts.
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Can "bourgeois" relate to tastes or preferences?

Yes, "bourgeois" can suggest tastes or values typical of the middle class, sometimes seen as mundane or conventional.
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Aug 24, 2023

Are both terms restricted to historical or socio-political use?

While rooted in socio-political dialogues, the terms can be applied in various contexts, from everyday life to cultural critiques.
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How do "bourgeoisie" and "bourgeois" differ in usage?

"Bourgeoisie" broadly refers to the middle class as a group, while "bourgeois" zooms in on individual characteristics or members.
Tayyaba Rehman
Aug 24, 2023

Are there synonyms for these terms?

Yes, synonyms include "middle class" for "bourgeoisie" and "middle-class" or "conventional" for "bourgeois."
Tayyaba Rehman
Aug 24, 2023

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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