Afterword. The (Idea of) African Middle Classes: Theorizing from Africa

  • Rachel Spronk
Part of the Frontiers of Globalization book series (FOG)


This concluding chapter engages with the individual contributions to this volume and shows how they represent an important response to the otherwise simplistic perspectives on Africa’s ‘new middle class’ or ‘emerging middle class’, perspectives that have appeared in both the global media and in publications produced by global institutions. Spronk reflects, firstly, on the terms ‘African’ and ‘middle class’. Problematic assumptions lie behind the use of both terms in the present debate, assumptions that compound the dangers of treating the African middle class as an ontological given. She then analyses three matters emerging from the book: the debates about the category of the ‘middle class’, the question of which material characteristics we should focus on when studying the middle classes, and the immaterial or symbolic qualities of studying the middle class. Lastly, she discusses the potential of theorizing the middle class from Africa, so as to incorporate the global North as just one of many sites in a world of plurality that can be, and must be, read from Africa as much as it is read from anywhere else.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rachel Spronk
    • 1
  1. 1.University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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