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The Rise of Africa's Middle Class


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Table of Contents

'Somewhere above Poor but below Rich': Explorations into the Species of the African Middle Class(es) - Henning Melber 1. African Middle Classes: Lessons from Transnational Studies and a Research Agenda - Carola Lentz 2. Human Development and the Construction of Middle Classes in the Global South - Tim Stoffel 3. Africa's Middle Class, Africa's Entrepreneurs and the 'Missing Middle' - Oluyele Akinkugbe and Karl Wohlmuth 4. Deconstructing the Myth of the African Middle Class - Sirkku K. Hellsten 5. Kenya - An Unconscious Middle Class? Between Regional-Ethnic Political Mobilisation and Middle Class Lifestyles - Dieter Neubert 6. Middle Class Activism in Nigeria: From Nationalist Struggle to Social Media Campaign - Nkwachukwu Orji 7. Emerging Middle Class Political Subjectivities in Post-war Angola - Jon Schubert 8. The Middle Class of Mozambique and the Politics of the Blank Slate - Jason Sumich 9. South Africa's Black Middle Class Professionals - Amuzweni L. Ngoma 10. The Middle Class of Dar es Salaam and Kiswahili Video-Films - Vicensia Shule Conclusion: How Much Class Have the African Middle Classes? - Henning Melber

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The first comprehensive volume to offer a critical perspective on the role of the new middle classes in contemporary Africa.

About the Author

Henning Melber, a political scientist and sociologist, is the van Zyl Slabbert visiting professor for sociology and political sciences at the University of Cape Town. He is senior advisor at the Nordic Africa Institute and the Dag Hammarskjoeld Foundation, having previously held directorships in both institutions. He is also extraordinary professor at the Department of Political Sciences of the University of Pretoria and the Centre for Africa Studies at the University of the Free State, as well as a senior research fellow at the Institute for Commonwealth Studies at the University of London. From 1992 to 2000, he was director of the Namibian Economic Policy Research Unit (NEPRU). Melber has been co-editor of the Africa Yearbook since its first publication in 2005, is managing co-editor of Africa Spectrum and editor-in-chief of the Strategic Review for Southern Africa. His latest publications include (as co-editor) Peace Diplomacy, Global Justice and International Agency (2014) and (as author) Understanding Namibia (2015) and A Decade of Namibia (2016).


This is a much-needed addition to the literature on the political mobilization of the middle class ... the empirically rich insights into diverse middle-class phenomena highlight the conceptual challenge of the middle-class label. * Africa Today *
Polemic, bold, engaging and an excellent read ... a worthwhile critical compendium of information not only on Africa's middle class but on sustainable social, cultural, economic, and political change in Africa.' * African Studies Quarterly *
Its combination of broader regional approaches and case studies from six countries provides an unprecedented overview of the relationships between contemporary economic, political and social circumstances and local constructions of class. ... a valuable read.' * Journal of Modern African Studies *
A worthy addition to the landmark Africa Now series of books produced by Uppsala's Nordic Africa Institute and Zed Books. * Canadian Journal of African Studies *
This readable set of essays offers nuance throughout ... the overarching theme that unites this collection is an original analysis of how to define, measure and understand the changing cultural, political and economic identity of those Africans in between the elites and the destitute. * Journal of Southern African Studies *
Sorting fact from fiction, Melber brings together experts and examines a variety of case studies. The end result is a much more nuanced analysis of Africa's middle class and a fresh look at societal transformations in contemporary Africa. * New African *
A solid academic work. * Ny Tid *
The Rise of Africa's Middle Class bursts with argument ... is comprehensive in its review of the existing literature on the concept of the middle class, as well as its engagement with conventional definitions often used by economists. It goes beyond empirical data to offer theoretical reflections and perspectives of values. * South African Journal of International Affairs *
The first systematic examination of the concept of an African middle class. It provides a valuable conceptual discussion along with in-depth case studies. This timely and critical analysis also offers meaningful alternative interpretations of the major social transformations taking place. * Dominique Darbon, Sciences Po Bordeaux *
As this empirically grounded book richly demonstrates, there would be little left to write home about being middle class, even by modest African standards, if middle class Africans were to seriously consider including fellow citizens in the personal success they are credited with. * Francis B. Nyamnjoh, University of Cape Town *
A very timely work with an impressive empirical width, and a sharp, well-referenced analytical edge. * Goeran Therborn, author of Cities of Power *
Subjects recent hype about the rise of the middle class in Africa to sceptical and critical analysis. An essential read for all engaging with the middle classes in development debate. * Gordon Crawford, Coventry University *
This intellectually ambitious and innovative collection combines sophisticated analysis with detailed case studies. Timely and hugely relevant, it marks a leap forward in our understanding of the middle classes. * Uma Kothari, University of Manchester *

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