Vilfredo Pareto on bourgeois balance

Legendary Italian social analyst Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923) asserted that there are two kinds of middle class or “bourgeois” people, Rs and Ss. The first group, the Rs, are adventurers who represent dynamism, change and economic progress. R’s speculate, they have the savvy and confidence to triage significant economic opportunities.

The second group, the Ss, are much more conservative and tend to be content with a “fixed income.” The humble small business owner is a classic S-type. Pareto said that both Rs and Ss are necessary for an economy to function and that balance between the two must be maintained. 

If we take Pareto’s analysis forward to the present day what do we see? Perhaps the greatest threat to Pareto’s notion of balance between the two groups is the ambient threat to the dignity of the second group, the Ss. Who wants to humbly generate a modest fixed income anymore? That’s not exactly the middle class zeitgeist. Accordingly, suspect schemes and dreams are ubiquitous. R types are inherently volatile and that’s good according to Pareto, but we may be in situation where too many Ss also feel the need to be Rs.

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