The term “bourgeoisie” has evolved over the last three centuries, leading me to wonder how to correctly use the term. Wikipedia rather opaquely (and perhaps oxymoronically) refers to the bourgeoisie as “the middle class nobility,” a group distinct from persons of “aristocratic origin.” I suppose Wikipedia’s authors are referencing the “landed gentry” of olden days, but that’s unclear.
Wikipedia further notes that in the French feudal order, “bourgeois” evolved to mean “merchants and traders,” although Marx later identified this group as the “petite bourgeoisie.” In the early 19th century, bourgeoisie was mostly synonymous with the middle class, Wiki allows, but just a few decades later, meant “the new ruling class,” perhaps owing to Marx’s usage of the descriptor for factory owners and other owners of the means of production. That said, I thought Marx differentiated between “capitalists” and the (petty) bourgeoisie, leaving me wonder where the categories break.
In the U.S., I’ve heard people use the term bourgeoisie to identify members of the middle class and upper-middle class and upper class. I suppose the definition has evolved, but what is the currently accepted definition?