“bourgeoisie: (Fr. citizen class) Term used by Marxists to indicate those persons other than the agricultural capitalist who do not, like the proletariat, live by the sale of their labor. They include, on the one hand, industrialists, financiers and members of the liberal professions; on the other, small artisans and shopkeepers who are described as the ‘petty” bourgeoisie, although their standard of living may not be appreciably higher, and may even be lower, than that of the proletariat. According to Marxist theory, the bourgeoisie arose with modern industrialization, breaking feudal patterns of society and replacing the feudal lords of the ruling class; the petty bourgeoisie will gradually become proletarianized and the proletariat will then succeed its remaining members as masters of society.”
Excerpted from: Cook, Chris. Dictionary of Historical Terms. New York: Gramercy, 1998.