Defining the Middle Class Boundaries in a Changing Society: Is There a New Middle Class in Brazil?

Tuesday, 12 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 11 (Juridicum)
Distributed Paper
Andre SALATA, Pontificia Universidade do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
This research seeks to contribute to the current debate on the middle class in Brazil, focusing on class identities and the perceptions of Brazilians concerning the middle class. In the last decade thousands of families have ascended to mid-range income levels, and became part of the middle layer of the population. From the Economics perspective, many analysts have interpreted those changes as the emergence of a new middle class in Brazil. This research, however, aims to analyze it from the perspective of class studies in Sociology. First we will describe this middle strata according to variables such as schooling and occupations, and then we are going to analyze its class identities and perceptions. The results achieved show that the individuals whose socioeconomic profile falls in the middle are not those who are usually perceived, neither who typically perceive themselves, as middle class. In fact, a higher likelihood of identification with the middle class can only be verified among the more privileged. To test it, descriptive statistics and multivariate models were applied to data from the “Pesquisa sobre Classe Média” (Cesop/Unicamp, 2008). Furthermore, it also becomes evident that the image of the middle class constructed in Brazil applies to wealthier strata of the population rather than intermediary ones.