The Making of the Middle Class

Toward a Transnational History

The Making of the Middle Class

Radical Perspectives

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Book Pages: 464 Illustrations: 1 illustration Published: January 2012

History > European History, World History, Latin American Studies

In this important and timely collection of essays, historians reflect on the middle class: what it is, why its struggles figure so prominently in discussions of the current economic crisis, and how it has shaped, and been shaped by, modernity. The contributors focus on specific middle-class formations around the world—in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas—since the mid-nineteenth century. They scrutinize these formations in relation to the practices of modernity, to professionalization, to revolutionary politics, and to the making of a public sphere. Taken together, their essays demonstrate that the historical formation of the middle class has been constituted transnationally through changing, unequal relationships and shifting racial and gender hierarchies, colonial practices, and religious divisions. That history raises questions about taking the robustness of the middle class as the measure of a society's stability and democratic promise. Those questions are among the many stimulated by The Making of the Middle Class, which invites critical conversation about capitalism, imperialism, postcolonialism, modernity, and our neoliberal present.

. Susanne Eineigel, Michael A.Ervin, Iñigo García-Bryce, Enrique Garguin, Simon Gunn, Carol E. Harrison, Franca Iacovetta, Sanjay Joshi, Prashant Kidambi, A. Ricardo López, Gisela Mettele, Marina Moskowitz, Robyn Muncy, Brian Owensby, David S. Parker, Mrinalini Sinha, Mary Kay Vaughan, Daniel J. Walkowitz, Keith David Watenpaugh, Barbara Weinstein, Michael O. West


The Making of the Middle Class brings together new work on a subject—the history of the middle class—that has previously seen only fragmented historical discussion.Yet, the volume does more than simply bring the middle classes back into the fold of global history. Rather, by taking a transnational lens, it has spurred an ambitious project to connect the history of the middle classes to broader discussions onglobal cultural identities, the history of globalization, practices of modernity, imperialism, and neoliberalism.” — Lisa Ubelaker Andrade, H-Soz-u-Kult, H-Net Reviews

“The book is a welcome addition to a historiography that, at least for Latin America, has focused too much on elites and/or subalterns...This book, however, is important in that it allows us to take a fresh look at what the ambivalent and ‘fuzzy’ realities of middle class(es) might mean for the modern age.” — Stefan Rinke, Hispanic American Historical Review

[T]he volume undoubtedly represents a step forward in the development of a field of middle-class studies. The insights of the introduction, the intelligence of the commentaries and afterword, and the variety of methods at play and of issues dealt with in each individual article will surely make of this book a fundamental read for scholars to come.” — Ezequiel Adamovsky, Social History

“[A] carefully crafted anthology…The panorama of the book's examples dazzles the reader's mind.” — Linda Young, Canadian Journal of History

"This book's many contributions are individually brilliant local studies and the act of gathering them and tying them together with post-section commentaries provides a fruitful direction for a truly comparative and transnational narrative." — Andrew C. Holman, Labour/Le Travail

"...[T]his collection’s strengths—particularly its fleshing out of the complex points of transnational contact between emergent middle classes—offer a valuable contribution both to historical scholarship and to larger discussions about the possibilities of a global middle class."  — Kristen Guest, Topia

"The Making of the Middle Class is a first-rate collection of essays by top scholars writing on a topic of enormous interest: the middle class as an evolving conception and historical reality. The contributors focus on locales around the world. While the issues that they raise take locally specific forms, their essays converge around shared central questions, giving this stimulating collection a rare intellectual unity and focus." — Michael Frisch, University at Buffalo, SUNY

"Both materially grounded and sensitive to notions of subjectivity and discourse, this timely and provocative volume challenges us to historicize the multiple, transnational formations and meanings of the middle class. Modernity itself is thus recast as a set of entangled, locally rooted processes that did not begin in 'the West' and travel elsewhere, but were mutually constituted and reconstituted in a global and colonial context." — Florencia E. Mallon, University of Wisconsin, Madison


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

A. Ricardo López is Assistant Professor of History at Western Washington University.

Barbara Weinstein is the Silver Professor of History at New York University. She is the author of For Social Peace in Brazil: Industrialists and the Remaking of the Working Class in São Paulo, 1920–1964.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: We Shall Be All: Toward a Transnational History of the Middle Class / A. Ricardo López with Barbara Weinstein 1

Part I: The Making of the Middle Class and Practices of Modernity 27

Thinking about Modernity from the Margins: The Making of a Middle Class in Colonial India / Sanjay Joshi 29

The African Middle Class in Zimbabwe: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives / Michael O. West 45

Between Modernity and Backwardness: The Case of the English Middle Class / Simon Gunn 58

"Aren't We All?": Aspiration, Acquisition, and the American Middle Class / Marina Moskowitz 75

The Gatekeepers: Middle-Class Campaigns of Citizenship in Early Cold War Canada / Franca Iacovetta 87

Commentary on Part I / Barbara Weinstein 107

Part II: Labor Professionalization, Class Formation, and State Rule 119

The Conundrum of the Middle-Class Worker in the Twentieth-Century United States: The Professional Managerial Workers' (Folk) Dance around Class / Daniel J. Walkowitz 121

Becoming Middle Class: The Local History of a Global Story—Colonial Bombay, 1890–1940 / Prashant Kidambi 141

Conscripts of Democracy: The Formation of a Professional Middle Class in Bogotá During the 1950s and Early 1960s / A. Ricardo López 161

The Formation of the Revolutionary Middle Class during the Mexican Revolution / Michael A. Ervin 196

Commentary on Part II / Mary Kay Vaughan 223

Part III: Middle-Class Politics in Revolution 233

A Middle Class Revolution: The APRA Party and Middle-Class Identity in Peru, 1931–1956 / Iñigo García-Bryce 235

Revolutionary Promises Encounter Urban Realities for Mexico City's Middle Class, 1915–1928 / Susanne Eineigel 253

Being Middle Class and Being Arab: Sectarian Dilemmas and Middle-Class Modernity in the Arab Middle East, 1908–1936 / Keith David Watenpaugh 267

Commentary on Part III / Brian Owensby 288

Part IV: Middle-Class Politics and the Making of the Public Sphere 297

The City as a Field of Female Civic Action: Women and Middle-Class Formation in Nineteenth-Century Germany / Gisela Mettele 299

Putting Faith in the Middle Class: the Bourgeoisie, Catholicism, and Postrevolutionary France / Carol E. Harrison 315

Siúticos, Huachafos, Cursis, Arribistas, and Gente de Medio Pelo: Social Climbers and the Representation of Class in Chile and Peru, 1860–1930 / David S. Parker 335

"Los Argentinos Descendemos de los Barcos": The Racial Articulation of Middle-Class Identity in Argentina, 1920–1960 / Enrique Garguin 355

Commentary on Part IV / Robyn Muncy 377

Afterword / Mrinalini Sinha 385

Bibliography 395

Contributors 431

Index 435
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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5129-0 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5117-7
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