Searching for a Different Future

The Rise of a Global Middle Class in Morocco

Searching for a Different Future

Book Pages: 192 Illustrations: Published: August 2004

Author: Shana Cohen

Globalization and Neoliberalism, Middle East Studies, Sociology

By examining how neoliberal economic reform policies have affected educated young adults in contemporary Morocco, Searching for a Different Future posits a new socioeconomic formation: the global middle class. During Morocco’s postcolonial period, from the 1950s through the 1970s, development policy and nationalist ideology supported the formation of a middle class based on the pursuit of education, employment, and material security. Neoliberal reforms adopted by Morocco since the early 1980s have significantly eroded the capacity of the state to nurture the middle class, and unemployment and temporary employment among educated adults has grown. There is no longer an obvious correlation between the best interests of the state and those of the middle-class worker. As Shana Cohen demonstrates, educated young adults in Morocco do not look toward the state for economic security and fulfillment but toward the diffuse, amorphous global market.

Cohen delves into the rupture that has occurred between the middle class, the individual, and the nation in Morocco and elsewhere around the world. Combining institutional economic analysis with cultural theory and ethnographic observation including interviews with seventy young adults in Casablanca and Rabat, she reveals how young, urban, educated Moroccans conceive of their material, social, and political conditions. She finds that, for the most part, they perceive improvement in their economic and social welfare apart from the types of civic participation commonly connected with nationalism and national identity. In answering classic sociological questions about how the evolution of capitalism influences identity, Cohen sheds new light on the measurable social and economic consequences of globalization and on its less tangible effects on individuals’ perception of their place in society and prospects in life.


“Cohen's book is definitely an interesting case study that captures many aspects of social change in a city from the global south by looking at the changing relationships among the nation, the state, the market, the community, and the citizen in contemporary globalized Morocco.” — Zakia Salime , Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East

"[T]his well-documented study [is] worthy of the attention of students not only of [Morocco], but also of the many others currently undergoing one stage or another of the globalization experience." — Kenneth J. Perkins , The Historian

"Timely. . . . [Cohen] concocts a rich theoretical brew to tackle a phenomenon with structural, cultural, and psychological dimensions. . . . A new and important contribution to the understanding of contemporary social and cultural processes in cities of the Arab world and beyond." — Lisa Taraki , H-Gender-MidEast, H-Net Reviews

Searching for a Different Future is superb. Shana Cohen’s work provides an outstanding example for all scholars who take seriously the productive potential of work that is at once theoretical and empirical, objectivist and subjectivist, economically sophisticated and culturally savvy, regionally situated and unabashedly global.” — Jonathan Cutler, coeditor of Post-Work: The Wages of Cybernation

“Shana Cohen is making a significant contribution to understandings of how insertion into the world economy feels to those on the global margins and how their search for a new form of identity shapes their relations to religion, the state, and each other. This is not only an important book but one with literary value as well: we come as close as we can to understanding individual struggles and the resulting complications.” — Miguel Centeno, Princeton University


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Shana Cohen is Senior Research Fellow in Social Policy and Social Care at Sheffield Hallam University in Sheffield, England.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface vii

Acknowledgments xi

Note on Translations and Transcriptions xii

1. Global Market Capitalism and Social Change 1

2. National Development and the Formation of Modern Middle Class 35

3. New Social Groups for a New Era 67

4. A Generation of Fuyards 106

Conclusion: Economic Insecurity and Social Formation 136

Notes 145

References 163

Index 169
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3387-6 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3351-7
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