The son of a prosperous cloth merchant. During the French Revolution Fourier participated in the Lyon uprising against the government known as the Convention. His family's property was confiscated as a result. He was imprisoned and barely escaped execution; then for a period he was conscripted into the army.
Socialist thinker who sought to prescribe a social order in harmony with natural order. His decription of the ‘phalanstery’, a social unit whose numbers and organisation were based on his understanding of the order of the cosmos, led to various Fourierist experiments. His system was nonrevolutionary, was believed to be able to flourish within any type of political system, and had some influence on later co-operative movements.
Achieved subsequent notoriety as a ‘utopian socialist’ scorned by the founders of ‘scientific socialism’, Marx and Engels. Businessman and civil servant until 1816, then private income.