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The modern social structure of France is complex, but generally similar to that of other European countries. Traditional social classes still have some presence, with a large bourgeoisie and especially petite bourgeoisie, and an unusually large proportion, for modern Europe, of farming smallholders. All these groups, and the remaining industrial working class, have considerable political power, which they are able to flex when required.
The old French society before the French revolution was divided on the basis of three 'estates' and they were as follows:
Following industrialization and the French revolution altered the social structure of France and the bourgeoisie became the new ruling class. The feudal nobility was on the decline with agricultural and land yields decreasing, and arranged marriages between noble and bourgeois family became increasingly common, fusing the two social classes together during the 19th century.
The social classes in France during this period were as follows:
In the 21st century, social class in France is often measured by income and profession. Bon chic bon genre is a term for fashionable people of good family ("bon genre"), especially in Paris. Graduates of the École nationale d'administration, or énarques predominate in the upper levels of government and many industries, along with graduates of the other Grandes écoles, specialized state-run institutes of tertiary education. However, primary and secondary education is almost entirely at state schools, unlike say England, and is a major engine of social mobility. Cultural capital, a concept from France, is still considered an issue for the many French people in a process of social mobility.