Political scientists have generally seen two key features of African political economies—a relatively small or absent middle class, and a middle class that is unusually embedded in the state—as key explanations of the troubled political and economic trajectories of many African societies. This paper considers the nature and implications of recent momentous changes for Africa’s political economies. It asks if there is such a thing as a homogenous and universal middle class, what its attributes and role are, and how these connect to the trajectory of the broader political economy.
Handley, A. Varieties of Capitalists?: the Middle Class, Private Sector and Economic Outcomes in Africa. UNU-WIDER, Helsinki, Finland (2014) 19 pp. [WIDER Working Paper No. 2014/101]