The French gave us the term 'bourgeois', and then proceeded to argue endlessly about what it meant. According to the Oxford English Dictionary it means 'of or pertaining to the French middle classes'. But it is not a simple matter of social class. Beatrix Le Wita sets out to demonstrate that to be bourgeois one must master a system of words, gestures and objects that define a way of life, a particular culture. It requires the exercise of self-control, and the ritualisation of daily routines. The bourgeoisie must furnish their room in just the right way, dress correctly, and tactfully invoke family history and custom. This witty, observant ethnography decodes the culture that dominates France.
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