Introduction: Africa’s Middle Classes in Critical Perspective

  • Tabea Scharrer
  • David O’Kane
  • Lena Kroeker
Part of the Frontiers of Globalization book series (FOG)


In this introductory chapter, the editors dissect the growing interest in the rise of middle classes in Africa. The apparently healthier rates of economic growth that are associated with these (reputed) classes seem to be an omen of a brighter economic and political future in Africa. For the editors of this volume, the middle class in Africa is an ‘overloaded’ class, overloaded with inflated expectations and unexamined assumptions. The editors question these assumptions in three dimensions: the political, the economic, and the dimension of lifestyle, the latter focusing on urbanization, education, and demographic change. They argue that in the continent today there is not one single ‘African middle class’ but rather a plurality of ‘middle classes’. The four sections of this volume (‘Rethinking Concepts of Middle Classes in Africa’, ‘the Recurring Rise and Return of Middle Classes in Africa’, ‘The Political Consequences of the Middle Classes’, and ‘the Formation of Interconnections and Interdependencies’) are introduced, and their contributions to an improved understanding of Africa’s diverse middle classes are outlined.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tabea Scharrer
    • 1
  • David O’Kane
    • 1
  • Lena Kroeker
    • 2
  1. 1.Max Planck Institute for Social AnthropologyHalle/SaaleGermany
  2. 2.Bayreuth UniversityBayreuthGermany

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