The panel aims at: Understanding how middle classe is being produced as a meaningful category in Africa; Discussing the actual structure of this so called middle class and the criteria that allow people to identify with it; Interpreting its impacts on the social, economic and political environment.
Middle classes are on the rise in the developing world. In Africa, international organizations and business reports alike have been focusing for the last 5 years on this new issue. They are now in the focus of a number of discourses dealing with the political stability (or instability) of African regimes (following the Arabian so called revolutions) and the economic expansion such classes are supposed to foster. This panel will provide panelists with the opportunity to review the general literature dedicated to Middle classes and their social, political and economic impact on the one hand and on the other hand, to discuss the relevance of such a notion for the analysis of current African political, social and economic transformations. Panelists are invited to pay a special attention to the following points: - Is the notion of middle classes relevant to study recent trends in Africa? - The notion being extensively used in emerging countries; is it applicable as such in any African countries or does it need to be adapted? - How does the making of this category in Africa take place and what does it mean? - How can we define middle classes and their subcategories in Africa, and which criteria are relevant (income, purchasing power, education, life style…)? - Is there a middle class identity? How do people conceptualize and perceive their status by themselves? - How can we analyse the "performative" effect of this "notion"? - How do middle classes affect economic development and political changes?