The objective of this panel is to develop a nuanced, interdisciplinary understanding of the emerging 'new middle' in the developing world. It discusses these precarious groups along three lines of inquiry: political agency, economic inequality and insecurity, and gender relations.
The burgeoning global 'new middle' has attracted the interest of social scientists from a range of disciplines. The group has been labeled 'middle class' though much of the new group is not far above any reasonable poverty line and exists alongside established middle classes in developing countries. The 'new middle' and the established middle have both been associated with political, economic and social change. Current developments in middle income and emerging markets from economic dynamism and economic stagnation, rising inequality, and civil unrest, to problems brought about by mass consumerism, widespread informality and social vulnerabilities form the background of a debate about the status and prospects of these newly non-poor groups. Such developments suggest a differentiated view on the emerging 'new middle' which takes into account the precarity that many in the developing world face. The objective of this panel is to develop a nuanced, interdisciplinary understanding of the characteristics, agency and impacts of the emerging 'new middle' in the developing world.