December 10th, 2010 / 4:54 pm


What’s the difference between middle-class and bourgeois? Cultural consumption? Money? Conspicuous consumption? The size of tv screen or SUV?

I ask because I’ve been thinking about flaneurs a lot, especially the modern flaneur and what he would embody. Findings to come, as I find them. They are somewhere, probably between the covers of The Arcades Project.


  1. NLY

      It is a semantic difference. One word denotes salary and lifestyle, and is applied to whoever fits it. The other denotes lifestyle and ideology, and is applied to whoever the person applying it thinks fits it.

  2. jereme_dean

      lily, the flaneur!

  3. Ken Baumann

      Check out Nassim Taleb, esp. his newest (excellent) book The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms. He calls himself a flaneur; advocates little work, slow walking, idle thought, etc. Brilliant guy. The Black Swan is a remarkable and unique book.

  4. Hank

      Wouldn’t ‘bourgeois’ be the adjectival form of the noun ‘bourgeoisie’? Meaning, of or pertaining to people who own the means of production, i.e., capital, i.e., money that makes more money.

      Conflating ‘middle-class’ with ‘bourgeois’ seems weird to me. Maybe that’s just because I’m a marxist or something like that. ‘Middle-class’ seems like “of or pertaining to the professional class (i.e., management) or the small business owning class.”

      Seems like in America everyone likes to think they are part of the middle class, so going with that, maybe ‘middle-class’, as an adjective, is kind of like middle-brow in that it describes someone who aspires to be something they are not — namely, someone with more money, with more intelligence, with more ability than they really have — or at least to be seen that way.

  5. Nick Mamatas

      The bourgeoisie were once the middle class when the aristocracy was the ruling class. For the most part the aristocracy no longer rules, the bourgeoisie do.

  6. crookteethsmile

      Do you have to walk the city to experience it or are we all flaneurs meandering from link to link, clicking and reading at our own pace?

  7. letters journal

      re: Camatte – I think the bourgeois subject (and bourgeois society) was subsumed by capitalism.

  8. JakeLevineSpork

      The only thing you’ll find in that Dub B book is a lot of words… and magic that unfolds into magic interpenetrating magic. his glasses were amazing.

  9. Jhon Baker

      Middle Class is an aspiration as where bourgeois or bourgeoisie is a state of having and controlling and also Middle Class is a non-existent phenomena from the 40’s- mid 90’s or thereabouts. Money is worth something only if it is old and in unspent condition – conspicuous consumption – more of that aspiration to be middle class or seem to be. TV, SUV – acronyms amongst acronyms playing at being important to someone somewhere.
      Cultural consumption? things, ideas obtained or low art witnessed for talk at the water cooler and competing with the Jonses – or in my case, the Petersons.

  10. Craft and the City: Writer as Flâneur | HTMLGIANT

      […] while ago, Lily pondered the flâneur in this post, and in the comments section Ken referenced Nassim Taleb, and it seems that interest in the […]

  11. James

      Middle Class is suburban, bourgeois is urban.