Middle-Class Approaches to Social Security in Kenya

  • Lena Kroeker
Part of the Frontiers of Globalization book series (FOG)


This chapter focuses on social mobility and the ways in which people act to cushion themselves against the threat of declining social status and its material effects. The African middle class is typically presented as both expanding in size and as moving upward, socially. Little attention is paid to the threat of downward mobility, and the ways in which that threat influences middle-class strategies to reproduce status. In this chapter, Kroeker argues that the middle class in Kenya has access to a variety of security arrangements derived from adequate and regular formal income. This distinguishes the middle from the lower class, which lacks such security. And still, the Kenyan middle class cannot rely solely on the social protection promised by ‘modern’ institutions. It has to invest, instead, in a mix of social security arrangements including solidarity-based practices and those increasing social capital. Social capital, as Bourdieu defined it, is a key resource for preventing loss of social status, as is the capacity to transform social capital into economic capital. In defining the middle class, at least in Kenya, these social capacities and entitlements (in the sense of Sen) are as important as acquired property and wealth.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lena Kroeker
    • 1
  1. 1.Bayreuth UniversityBayreuthGermany

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