The bourgeoisie (// (listen) BOORZH-wah-ZEE, 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 affluence, and their great cultural and financial capital. They are sometimes divided into a petty (petite), middle (moyenne), large (grande), upper (haute), and ancient (ancienne) bourgeoisie and collectively designated as "the bourgeoisie".
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The bourgeoisie in its original sense is intimately linked to the existence of cities, recognized as such by their urban charters (e.g., municipal charters, town privileges, German town law), so there was no bourgeoisie apart from the citizenry of the cities. Rural peasants came under a different legal system.
In Marxist philosophy, the bourgeoisie is the social class that came to own the means of production during modern industrialization and whose societal concerns are the value of property and the preservation of capital to ensure the perpetuation of their economic supremacy in society.