Sociology Index


Petite Bourgeoisie is a middle class of professionals and small-business people who work for themselves or own small productive facilities. Karl Marx predicted that this class would be gradually eliminated by the consolidation of large capital under competitive forces. Petite (Petty) Bourgeoisie, just as bourgeoisie, the petite bourgeoisie own some means of production, though these are almost always limited in scale compared to what is owned by the bourgeoisie. Petite bourgeoisie does not need to sell their labour power in order to earn a living. The petite bourgeoisie does not necessarily need to buy the labour power of others, that is, the petite bourgeoisie can work by herself with the tools of the trade she has acquired.

Even if the petite bourgeoisie does chose to buy the labour power of someone else, she almost always labours alongside the hired help. Hence, it is possible that the petite bourgeoisie could be brought to side with the proletariat in a socialist revolution. The phrase petite bourgeoisie is often wrongly taken to mean what we would commonly call the middle class. Given Marx's useage of the term, the petite bourgeoisie would actually be closest to the term entrepreneurs.

Demythologising the petite bourgeoisie: The Italian case
Linda Weiss, Senior Teaching Fellow in the School of Humanities, Griffith University, Australia
Abstract: The political volatility and economic instability of the petite bourgeoisie are taken for granted in most political and sociological analysis. Using a variety of evidence, including electoral and survey materials, this article counterposes to the 'pathological' interpretation of the petite bourgeoisie an alternative profile, one that stresses its confidence, its stability of allegiance and its commitment to centrism.

The Petite Bourgeoisie in Late Capitalism - F. Bechhofer and B. Elliott
Department of Sociology, University of Edinburgh, Annual Review of Sociology Vol. 11: 181-207
Over the past decade or so social scientists and policy makers have grown increasingly interested in the role of the petite bourgeoisie in capitalist societies. The paper begins by sketching the major sociological approaches to the study of this stratum and the diverse characteristics of and propositions put forth about the fortunes of the petite bourgeoisie.
The economic significance of the petite bourgeoisie is assessed with respect to information about the capacity of the stratum to provide employment, to generate new jobs, and to stimulate innovation. The small business sector also has considerable political significance. This is a fact which contemporary right wing governments have been quick to recognize. The petite bourgeoisie is a socially distinctive and persistent element in capitalist societies. Factors that do much to account for its reproduction include the effects of recession, processes of technical change, and government policies that support and encourage smallseale entrepreneurial activity. The paper concludes by arguing that even in economies dominated by large corporations, petits bourgeois businesses continue to provide jobs for a substantial proportion of the population and the most personal and direct experience of capitalism for many citizens.

The Petite Bourgeoisie in Europe 1780-1914: Geoffrey Crossick, Heinz-Gerhard Haupt - 1998
The Petite Bourgeoisie in Europe 1780-1914 is the first general study of the social, economic, cultural and political development of this ambiguous social group. This invaluable and authoritative assessment ably explores the emergence of a distinctive petite-bourgeois cultural and political identity.

Has the traditional petite bourgeoisie persisted? - Carl J. Cuneo.
Abstract It is argued on the basis of an analysis of Canadian Census and Labour Force Survey data that the traditional petite bourgeoisie, or the self-employed who hire little or no wage labour, has not continuously declined between 1931 and 1981. The petite bourgeoisie persisted generally between 1931 and 1951 and became stronger between 1931 and 1941. In some economic sectors, such as building construction, it persisted at considerable strength until 1961. Intersectoral differences occur in the size of the traditional petite bourgeoisie. The petite bourgeoisie also persisted in isolated occupational pockets, such as boot and shoe repairers, upholsterers, taxicab drivers, and real estate agents. In particular, it is suggested that the persistence and uneven decline of the traditional petite bourgeoisie follows closely several conceptual distinctions in Marxist political economy.