However, by focusing on the political nation, her argument overlooks what this evidence suggests about changes in lived experience and social identities at the level of the region or community. In fact, it functioned as a critical counter-norm, an imagined and threatening embodiment of materialism, self-interest, commercialism, and mass culture, which defined all that the French rejected.
The Myth of the French Bourgeoisie: In the statement the bourgeois Petion who implicitly distanced himself from the grouprecognized a distinct "bourgeoisie" in both political and economic terms; and, just as significantly, he implied a recent change--the bourgeoisie "has broken"--that again suggests the rapid political evolution that occurred.
Her brief seems convincing for the prerevolutionary era. We know from the work of historians of both consumption and production that France had a vibrant consumer culture in the eighteenth century, and that exploitative relationships developed between workers and employers despite the late arrival of fully fledged industrial capitalism.
Moreover, as suggested most clearly by the political weaknesses of the "bourgeois monarch" Louis Napoleon, attempts to construct a political discourse around the bourgeoisie failed because the concept had little purchase as a meaningful political or social category.
Drawing on political and economic theory and history, personal and polemical writings, and works of fiction, Maza argues that the bourgeoisie was never the social norm.
Drawing on political and economic theory and history, personal and polemical writings, and works of fiction, Maza argues that the bourgeoisie was never the social norm. Their self-conscious entry onto the political stage began in the s, as historians and politicians skillfully crafted the narrative of an active middle class who in retrospect had heroically waged the revolutionary struggle and thus had won the right to dominate what ultimately became the July, or bourgeois, monarchy.
Despite the large numbers of respectable middling town-dwellers, no group identified themselves as bourgeois.
And what are we to do with statements such as this one, from Girondin Jerome Petion, from early ? Her brief seems convincing for the prerevolutionary era. The most notable weakness is the triumphal tone of some of her conclusions about the bourgeoisie, for the class whose existence Maza disproves is something of a straw man.
So count this reader, at least, as not quite convinced. Particularly interesting is her argument that the political role often ascribed to the bourgeoisie was expressed instead in an ethic of service to the state and manifested itself in the birth and articulation of an extensive, differentiated, and professionalized bureaucracy.
In the last decades of the eighteenth century, she argues, neither class struggle nor any sort of coming confrontation between noble and bourgeoisie was apparent; rather, the favored political model was the family reconciliation, embodied in the numerous sentimental plays in which, for example, nobles and peasants were revealed to be long-lost siblings.
Maza acknowledges this evidence of significant economic and social change but concludes that its relationship to the existence of a bourgeois identity is highly problematic. The Guard, with units throughout the country, was composed of the economic and social elite.
In this new approach to the old question of the bourgeoisie, Sarah Maza focuses on the crucial period before, during, and after the French Revolution, and offers a provocative answer: In the late eighteenth century, bourgeois was a legal term that referred to those urban non-nobles who [End Page ] were entitled to the privileges of the town.
Harvard University Press, Maza (Northwestern Univ.) argues that the French bourgeoisie did not exist; that is to say, that the caricatures of the period to express not an empirical reality, but a negatively constructed Other--a greedy, self-serving upstart who was counterposed to the altruistic, public-minded citizen of the republic of virtue.
The Myth of the French Bourgeoisie: An Essay on the Social Imaginary, by Sarah Maza (): Sarah Maza: The Myth of the French Bourgeoisie: An Essay on the Social Imaginary, by Sarah Maza () though its non-existence before is a key element of her argument that the bourgeoisie did not.
The Myth of the French Bourgeoisie: An Essay on the Social Imaginary, By Sarah Maza (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, x plus pp. $). Did France have a bourgeoisie? That is the central question of Sarah Maza's The Myth of the French Bourgeoisie, and the answer is no.
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Who, exactly, were the French bourgeoisie? Unlike .Download