Petty Property: the Survival of a Moral Economy

  • Frank Bechhofer
  • Brian Elliott
Part of the Edinburgh Studies in Sociology book series (ESIS)


As sociologists it would be easy to find points of disagreement with the notion of class expressed in the preface of E. P. Thompson’s celebrated study of the making of the English working class, but whatever its shortcomings, his approach has the considerable merit of forcing us to think seriously and precisely about actual social relationships. In this chapter we want to look at the character of those social relations in which men and women of the petite bourgeoisie are set, at the class experience of those who, in so much of the literature, are ignored or crudely caricatured. As in so many discussions of class, we encounter awkward problems of definition flowing from different traditions of writing, different theoretical stances and different substantive interests. In the previous essays we have brought together accounts which relate to small farmers in a developing colonial territory, small farmers set in and working for a modern capitalist economy, artisanal bakers in France, small businessmen in a socialist country and craftsmen and petty capitalists in developing countries. In what sense can such a diverse occupational set be said to have anything in common? On one thing we can surely agree: these are neither bourgeois nor proletarians. At the same time it is clear that they are unlike the routine white-collar workers in industry, commerce or public administration and they are different too from the bureaucratised professionals or salaried intelligentsia.


Small Business Small Enterprise Resale Price Maintenance Moral Economy Monopoly Capitalism 
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Copyright information

© Frank Bechhofer and Brian Elliott 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frank Bechhofer
  • Brian Elliott

There are no affiliations available

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