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Contribution to Book
Revolution "From the Middle": Historical Events, Narrative, and the Making of the Middle Class in the Contemporary Developing World
Political Power and Social Theory (2010)
  • Celso M Villegas
Diane Davis has written a fine piece that seeks to reorient our scholarly gaze onto the dynamics of middle-class formation in the developing world. She writes, “…our research objective is not merely to study the appearance of an emergent or new middle class in the developing world, but to understand the implications of an increasingly heterogenous middle class” with more acute occupational and spatial cleavages (p. 14). Building political coalitions between the two main groupings of the middle class – public sector employees and small- and medium-sized industrial producers – which in the past had produced “socially inclusive development policy” faces new complications as the global economy could pit old middle-class corporatist populism and new middle-class neoliberalism against each other (pp. 16–17). Davis argues this intraclass cleavage is further intensified as the state in many developing world countries opts for decentralization and I would add as party politics becomes significantly less representative (see, e.g., Mainwaring, Maria Bejerano, & Pizzaro, 2006). New middle-class politics becomes less and less about “class” and more about civil society, both in organizational and discursive terms (pp. 24–25, 29–30). With political discourse shifting away from national politics per se toward local, more NIMBYist proclivities (p. 18), activism becomes more intense though dispersed, focusing on “issues of urban sustainability and livability” and through distinct modes of political engagement (p. 30). What Davis concludes therefore is that “middle class heterogeneity, as reinforced by the unequal distribution of new and old middle classes in urban built environmental, politico-institutional, and consumption spaces, manifests itself in new forms of inequality, democratic politics, and the decline of class activism” (p. 33). Future research would certainly benefit from a close inspection of urban issues as the crux of middle-class politics in the contemporary developing world.
Publication Date
Julian Go
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Citation Information
Celso M Villegas. "Revolution "From the Middle": Historical Events, Narrative, and the Making of the Middle Class in the Contemporary Developing World" Political Power and Social Theory Vol. 21 (2010) p. 299 - 312
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