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Book part
Publication date: 23 December 2010

Raka Ray

Questions about the role and composition of the middle class have been examined and debated in the academy and in the political sphere for more than 100 years. In analyses…

Abstract

Questions about the role and composition of the middle class have been examined and debated in the academy and in the political sphere for more than 100 years. In analyses of the Indian middle class specifically, two questions, both addressed by Diane Davis, seem to excite the most attention. The first has to do with the definition of a middle class, a term that has its origins in a very different social formation as well as its potentially mediating function in democracy. The second and more recent question has to do with what is variously called the “new” or “emerging” middle classes – in short, the middle classes of a liberalizing India.

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Political Power and Social Theory
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-85724-326-3

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Book part
Publication date: 16 September 2019

Antoine Genest-Grégoire, Jean-Herman Guay and Luc Godbout

Politicians of all stripes appeal to the support of the middle class and aim their policy proposals at this group. Reference-group theory explains why citizens could…

Abstract

Politicians of all stripes appeal to the support of the middle class and aim their policy proposals at this group. Reference-group theory explains why citizens could believe themselves to be middle class, even if their income level or social status places them above or below. It postulates that, since the reference groups of most people are relatively homogeneous, anyone could feel ‘average’ compared to the reference group. The authors aim to test this theory by comparing perceptions about the middle class with a categorisation using objective income statistics. A survey of the adult population of the Canadian province of Quebec showed a significant proportion of citizens believing to be part of the middle class, even though their equivalised income levels placed them outside of a generally recognised income range for this group. Most notably, this subjective misplacement on the income distribution was heavily concentrated among individuals whose incomes were too high to be a part of the middle class. Our results also show that support for higher taxes on the rich might be overstated, as some respondents simply do not realise that they are a part of this group.

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What Drives Inequality?
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78973-377-8

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Book part
Publication date: 30 September 2020

Kevan Harris

One of the concepts most commonly evoked in order to characterize and explain the zig-zag trajectory of political dynamics in the Islamic Republic of Iran has been the …

Abstract

One of the concepts most commonly evoked in order to characterize and explain the zig-zag trajectory of political dynamics in the Islamic Republic of Iran has been the “middle class.” Yet there is no scholarly consensus on a fundamental approach to identification and measurement of the middle class. Rather, the category of the middle class is both a category of analysis – long debated within social theory – as well as a category of practice – routinely deployed in political behavior and social distinction. In order to better conceptualize and understand the formation and role of Iran's middle classes in the country's sociopolitical dynamics, theories of class formation in the global South should be rearticulated away from a reified notion of the middle class as a transhistorical subject. To do so, this chapter is divided into four sections. First, internal debates over the role of Iran's middle classes in the country's recent political history are assessed and data from the 2016 Iran Social Survey is used to test a long-standing demographic assumption on the class dynamics of electoral behavior. Second, the tradition of theorizing the social power of middle classes is reassessed, drawing on the growing scholarly attention to the heterogenous origins and differentiated internal composition of middle classes across the global South. Third, a typology is proposed of four middle classes across the twentieth century shaped by varying state attempts at “catch-up” development. These types are then applied in a revisionist telling of the making and unmaking of middle classes in postrevolutionary Iran. Finally, implications of this framework beyond Iran are sketched out for global waves of protest in the twenty-first century.

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Rethinking Class and Social Difference
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83982-020-5

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Book part
Publication date: 10 November 2021

Botshabelo Maja

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Black Youth Aspirations
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80262-025-2

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Article
Publication date: 15 April 2019

James Lappeman, Caitlin Ferreira, Jeandri Robertson and Tendai Chikweche

The purpose of the paper is to investigate the nature of variations among established and emerging middle class consumers in South Africa in response to the institution…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of the paper is to investigate the nature of variations among established and emerging middle class consumers in South Africa in response to the institution context factors associated with emerging markets that are established in international business studies.

Design/methodology/approach

An exploratory research approach using semi-structured expert interviews was used to collect data.

Findings

Key findings indicate distinct approaches in dealing with factors such as different fallback positions, asset ownership, education, language, family responsibility, career aspirations and risk protection in the middle class process of attaining and sustaining middle class status.

Research limitations/implications

The focus on one country has the potential to minimize the generalizability of findings from the study, however, South Africa has a significantly high proportion of sub-Saharan middle class consumers. This provides a basis for further a basis for further research into other sub-Saharan African countries.

Practical implications

Findings from the study provide practical insights on risk profiling of middle-class consumers for marketing practitioners.

Social implications

The study provides insights into the distinct variations between emerging and established middle class consumers in areas such as language and education. These insights have potential implications on the implementation of government policies such as the Empowerment Policy and consumer protection.

Originality/value

The paper expands the research agenda in the area of middle class consumer behavior in emerging markets. By concentrating on South Africa, the research expands existing knowledge beyond emerging giants like China and India, which are often a focus in literature.

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Society and Business Review, vol. 14 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5680

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Article
Publication date: 5 April 2011

Ada Leung

The purpose of this paper is to enhance understanding of social reproduction by investigating the financial management practices carried out by the consumers. Using depth…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to enhance understanding of social reproduction by investigating the financial management practices carried out by the consumers. Using depth interviews, a theoretical model is developed to describe how financial management practices are carried out to facilitate the attainment of class‐specific life goals and discuss how these practices are related to social reproduction.

Design/methodology/approach

In total, 22 adults aged 22‐79 were interviewed face‐to‐face. They were asked to describe their financial management practices and their perception and feelings towards their financial situation. They were also asked about the life goals and their perception of progress towards achieving the stated goals.

Findings

Different sets of financial management practices and their corresponding structural implications are identified in this study. The coping practices are the ones the working class carry out to meet mundane financial obligations, leaving little for long‐term strategizing. The balancing practices are the ones the middle class carry out to juggle hectic family lives and promising careers. With a low level of slack resources, the middle class need to make monetary trade‐off in their practices. The achieving practices are the ones that are practiced by the upper‐middle class who settle in their class position and focus on furthering the growth of self and family. The structural implications of financial management practices make the attainment of occupational status via education least accessible for the working class, but within easy reach for the upper‐middle class.

Research limitations/implications

The paper studies a convenient sample of adults in a mid‐Western city in the USA, which has a high level of racial homogeneity (i.e. White) compared with the metropolitans in the USA. Nevertheless, this study communicates the social embeddedness and structural ramifications of individual/household financial management practices.

Originality/value

This is the first study to examine how class situation, with its various resource levels and differences in time horizon, influences the enactment of financial management practices, and how these micro‐processes give rise to social reproduction.

Details

Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, vol. 14 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1352-2752

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Book part
Publication date: 23 December 2010

Devesh Kapur

In the past three decades India has been one of the fastest growing countries in the world. Per capita income has increased fourfold, from $229 in 1980 to $318 in 1990 to…

Abstract

In the past three decades India has been one of the fastest growing countries in the world. Per capita income has increased fourfold, from $229 in 1980 to $318 in 1990 to nearly $900 in 2010 (constant 2000 dollars). Although there is growing evidence of increases in income inequality, standard measures of inequality such as the Gini coefficient are still considerably less in India than in other Brazil, Russia, India, Chinas (BRICs) (or the United States). Consequently this rapid growth has led to a substantial expansion of India's middle class (and a concomitant decline in poverty).

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Political Power and Social Theory
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-85724-326-3

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Book part
Publication date: 10 November 2021

Botshabelo Maja

Abstract

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Black Youth Aspirations
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80262-025-2

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Abstract

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Does the Black Middle Class Exist and Are We Members?: Reflections from a Research Team
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83867-356-7

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Book part
Publication date: 23 December 2010

Eva Bellin

Before exploring the political implications of the emerging middle class, best to begin by defining the term. The economists who herald the growth of the middle class in…

Abstract

Before exploring the political implications of the emerging middle class, best to begin by defining the term. The economists who herald the growth of the middle class in the developing world today largely construe the term solely as an income category. This is in stark contrast to Marx, who defined class in terms of a social group's relation to the means of production, and it is in stark contrast to Weber, who defined class in terms of a group's pattern of consumption. But even if economists agree to conceive of the middle class as an income category, they differ on how to define this category – whether in relative or absolute terms.3 Some, like Lester Thurow, define middle class relationally. People are middle class if their income falls between 75% and 125% of the median income in a given society. Others define middle class in absolute terms. In the case of Milanovic and Yitzhaki, the boundaries of the contemporary global middle class are set between the average income levels that currently prevail in Brazil and Italy (threshold and ceiling, respectively).4 Still others like Diana Farrell define middle class in terms of relative access to discretionary spending. For Farrell, the middle class is distinguished from the poor in that it does not live “hand to mouth.” Members of the middle class are defined as those who have roughly a third of their income left over for discretionary spending after covering the basic cost of food and shelter.

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Political Power and Social Theory
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-85724-326-3

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