“Middle Class” a Western Concept?
The current discussion on middle classes in the Global South has placed one of sociology’s core topics - the analysis of social structure and inequality - in the focus of a global sociology. At the same time, this debate shows that the conceptual developments in the social structure debate in sociology are hardly taken into account. The debate on global middle classes is dominated by a simplified notion of class reduced to income. The question whether classes in a Marxian, Weberian or Bourdieuan sense exist is hardly discussed. It is implied that classes are socio-culturally homogenous despite well-known differences with regard to religion, ethnicity or gender and the existence of different lifestyles. Moreover, patterns of intersectionality are hardly recognised.
The simple question is: Do Western sociological concepts apply globally? If so, do we find in the Global South or transitional countries similar classes and social groups as in the “West” and how they are they defined? Or is there a need to develop the concepts further to analyse societies in different world regions. The panel invites empirical and conceptual contributions case studies of specific classes or groups or countries as well as comparative studies.
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