() or petty bourgeois
is a 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
theorists to refer to a social class
that included shop-keepers and government employees.
Though distinct from the ordinary working class
and the lumpenproletariat
, who rely entirely on the sale of their labor-power for survival, the petit- is different from the haute bourgeoisie
, (high bourgeoisie) or capitalist
class, who own the means of production
and buy the labor-power of others to work it. Though the petite bourgeoisie 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 importantly, 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.
The petit bourgeois were to lose out in the historical processes that Marxism predicted; the claim was made that they were therefore the mainstay of Fascism, which was presented as a terroristic reaction to the inevitability of these losses.R. J. B. Bosworth, Mussolini's Italy
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