The Ghanaian Middle Class, Social Stratification, and Long-Term Dynamics of Upward and Downward Mobility of Lawyers and Teachers

  • Jan Budniok
  • Andrea Noll
Part of the Frontiers of Globalization book series (FOG)


In this chapter, the authors argue that a middle class is not a new phenomenon for Ghana: it has existed since the late nineteenth century. In both the past and today, belonging to the middle class has been based on occupation and education. This chapter looks at the complex historic dynamics of three aspects of middle classness in Ghana: class structure, individual social mobility, and the relative status of two occupational groups, lawyers and teachers. While the size of the middle class has grown considerably in recent years due to a buoyant economy and expanding tertiary education, it was less visible in the 1970s and 1980s: due to the political and economic crises of that era, the entire class structure moved down and up again in economic terms, like an elevator. The key to understanding this process, the authors hold, is Bourdieu’s insight that economic capital does not necessarily constitute the most central dimension of social inequality. In Ghana, access to middle class education and occupations has been consistently mediated through multiple and various forms of capital.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan Budniok
    • 1
  • Andrea Noll
    • 1
  1. 1.University of HamburgHamburgGermany

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