SOCIO-CULTURAL DIVERSITY OF THE AFRICAN MIDDLE CLASS – RESULTS FROM EMPIRICAL RESEARCH ON MIDDLE-CLASS MILIEUS IN URBAN KENYA
4:30PM, WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2017
34 HILLHOUSE AVE ROOM 202, LUCE HALL
In recent years, there has been an increase of interest in the middle-class in the Global South in general and in Africa in particular, as a large number of media reports, economic forecasts and academic articles indicate. However, there are many questions about middle classes in Africa: Is it correct to talk about “the” African middle class or are the many middle classes in the different African contexts?
Which structures and characteristics are significant when we examine middle-classes in Africa? For answers to these and other question, the talk presents results from research on sociocultural differentiated groups (milieus) in the middle- classes of urban Kenya. Sociocultural characteristics such as urban-rural connections, entitlements to/from the extended family, ethnic ties, religious convictions and more influences can be crucial for different lifestyles of middle-classes.
Ethnographic data demonstrate that there is not one homogenous middle-class but several groups that differ fundamentally in their values, aims in life and consumption preferences. Therefore, the presentation will show which different social milieus live in the middle-income stratum of urban Kenya, mainly in Nairobi. This perspective offers a different approach to understanding “middle- classes” in Africa. In addition, milieu study helps considering specific sociocultural characteristics and a more precise analysis of group structures than a definition of “middle-classes” by income.