Understanding the Rising Middle Class in Sub-Saharan Africa Symbolic boundaries, State and Social Groups in Liberia

Over the last decade economic growth in the African continent has been particularly high and the middle class is increasing. According to leading international institutions this growing middle class will be decisive in the next decades. It will push consumption, contribute to the enhancement of human capital, reinforce democracy and accountability and promote an entrepreneurial spirit. However, most existing analyses and current assumptions are based on statistics that are problematic.

This research project aims at changing how we study middle class in Africa, and provides a new description of this heterogeneous group. The project will focus on three groups - "upper", "lower" and "floating" middle class - in two cities in Liberia. It will give a clear account of the representations and practices of the middle class concerning consumption, social and political commitments, entrepreneurship, democracy and corruption. It will contribute to bring social class back into debates in African studies, establish a new way to think about it and provide a non-Western perspective in the international discussion on class.


Mathieu Hilgers

Laboratory of Anthropology of Contemporary Worlds
Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences

Created on August 31, 2018