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date: 12 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

When the long-dominant Marxist ‘rise of the bourgeoisie’ paradigm collapsed in the face of the revisionist challenge, scholars largely abandoned questions of capitalism and the bourgeoisie and their relationship to the origins of the Revolution. Research on the transformation of eighteenth-century consumer behaviours and the dramatic expansion of colonial trade, however, has sparked renewed interest in the consequences of these developments for the crisis of the old regime and the revolutionary reinvention of society and politics. Within this emergent scholarship, this essay highlights two trends: those who expand the frame of analysis to consider global economic exchanges, and those who focus in on the perspective of individual consumers. Further, by bringing to light the political mobilization of French business leaders in 1788–89, this chapter proposes that the political choices of the capitalist bourgeoisie may well provide a key to understanding the development of revolutionary politics after all.

Keywords: Bourgeoisie, class, representation, commerce, colonies, Estates-General, taxes, rights, interest

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