The development of such a social class as bourgeoisie becomes the characteristic feature of the second part of the nineteenth century. In his work The Age of Empire, 1875-1914, Eric Hobsbawm concentrates on depicting the particular features of the period, accentuating such important details as the bourgeois lifestyle and the progress of feminine liberation.
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According to Hobsbawm, the bourgeoisie can be discussed in relation to such notions as privacy, property, education, and sport as the determining components of the specific lifestyle, and the role of women in the society can be explored with references to their new role in the family and with paying attention to the development of female movements.
The bourgeoisie as a social class includes the representatives of the upper middle class who gained their positions with increasing their properties. However, Hobsbawm states that not only the level of property but also the person’s education can be considered as a significant factor to discuss the person as bourgeois (Hobsbawm 172).
From this point, basing on two factors, these “legally free and equal individuals” created the special bourgeois lifestyle which helped determine them as higher than workers, but put the line between the bourgeoisie and aristocracy (Hobsbawm 24). The representatives of the bourgeoisie were successful property owners who developed the principles of capitalism.
The amount of wealth influenced the bourgeoisie’s everyday life and their interests. Thus, orienting to the economic success and the business’s development, some persons were also interested in art or philosophical thinking, the other ones paid attention to sport or science.
Nevertheless, in spite of the property levels, the upper middle class representatives focused on their education and the education of their children as the necessary factor of the personal development.
If the workers were provided with the opportunities to get the elementary education, the property owners tried to give their children the standard university education as the first step to the upper classes (Hobsbawm 149). Thus, representatives of the bourgeoisie are traditionally educated rich persons with the developed analytical abilities and such qualities as responsibility, competence, and reliability.
The turn of the centuries is also characterized by the intensive development of the feminine liberation and associated movements. Hobsbawm accentuates the emergence of a new woman who is active and rather independent in her visions. The author discusses the figures of Rosa Luxemburg and Madame Curie as examples (Hobsbawm 192).
The causes of feminine liberation are in the general emancipation developed in the society under the impact of increasing the role of education, changes in the economic sphere, and the freedom of movement (Hobsbawm 202). Hobsbawm states that the educated women begin to emphasize their rights because of the general atmosphere within the society.
Moreover, such details as the “practice of casual social dancing in public” and changing the attitude to motherhood and birth control are also significant (Hobsbawm 204). Thus, new women concentrate on gaining the equal opportunities and the right to vote and work with men.
According to Hobsbawm, the bourgeois lifestyle in the nineteenth century significantly depends on such factors as money, privacy, and education as the aspects to gain the upper social positions. Furthermore, the period is characterized by changing the women’s role with references to the concept of liberation.
Women become actively interested in social activities and protecting their rights and equality in relation to men, accentuating the right to work, to vote, and to control the birth rate.
Hobsbawm, Eric. The Age of Empire, 1875-1914. New York: Vintage Books, 1989. Print.