Join 3,430 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


I’ll give you a hint. It rhymes with "flemerging."
September 12, 2013 8:45 AM   Subscribe

No matter what time period you are referring to, no matter what country or region of the world you are referencing, there is a single claim that you can make that will always be true and will never be challenged, not even by Malcolm Gladwell himself: the middle class is always in the process of emerging.
posted by davidjmcgee (15 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Not one damned fact in that entire opinion piece.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:52 AM on September 12, 2013


"As everyone knows, there is no period in history in which you can't write successfully of a newly emergent, newly confident middle class, just as there is no period in history after the sixteenth century that you can't write about 'the sweeping away of old certainties'."
posted by the latin mouse at 8:53 AM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Phlegm urging.
posted by orme at 8:58 AM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Doing a Google search on "emerging middle class" lends strong support to the thesis.

Not one damned fact in that entire opinion piece.


I think you might have missed the tone of the piece a little.
posted by yoink at 9:00 AM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hemorrhaging?
posted by Telf at 9:08 AM on September 12, 2013


I took it as being a tongue-in-cheek note to writers. I could imagine someone saying to young local reporters that there is always a Local Man somewhere being honored for Some National Accomplishment in the same spirit. Or telling technology writers to write about how computers are getting faster.
posted by randomkeystrike at 9:11 AM on September 12, 2013


The tendency to segregate social classes by a "level" with some connection to income (but not necessarily to the rate of that income--maybe its source or something?) is lazy writing; maybe the members group you're referring to did indeed have a lot in common with one another, but it's hard to tell what if you can't be bothered to give them a proper name. At least try "bourgeoisie" or something.
posted by LogicalDash at 9:23 AM on September 12, 2013


Heh. I've just spent the day gathering and modeling data on the middle class in 50 developing countries. Or rather, the emerging middle class.

The funny thing about the middle class is that there is no one definition of what we mean, so depending on what you look at it is always emerging somewhere, in some way. There are income benchmarks - in the poorest countries you've entered the middle class if your income is more than $10/day in purchasing power parity. Arguably a more useful benchmark is when you can afford a car, which some organisations use.

However, on income benchmarks, some people enter and then leave the middle class - notably people formerly in white collar jobs in unstable countries. Do they actually leave the middle class though?

The emerging middle class is really underpinned by the increase in literacy. It is both a cause (literacy enabling labour to add value) and an effect (parents can spare the time for their children to go to school).

An obvious group of countries have 99% literacy and established large middle classes (e.g. Europe, North America), a whole bunch have literacy rates at or approaching 90% literacy and a sizeable and recognisable middle class (South America, Asia), and many have low literacy rates (typically poorly developed Africa) and relatively small, often isolated middle classes.

And some interesting anomalies of countries which have high levels of poverty and literacy: e.g. Zimbabwe, Gaza/West Bank, where there is a large middle class who do not have the means to consume like a middle class.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:34 AM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


No matter what time period . . . no matter what country . . . the middle class is always in the process of emerging.

1975; Cambodia.
 
posted by Herodios at 10:40 AM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


"emerging middle class" is probably just a way of saying there is a broad upward increase of standard of living. Since this has been ongoing since time immoral, it would be a common theme.
posted by stbalbach at 11:17 AM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


The middle class is always on the rise, traditional values are always threatened, and things are always bad for farmers.
posted by kenko at 11:49 AM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Um, in the United States it kinda looks like it's submerging:
"Between 1979 and 2007 the top earning 1 percent of households increased their income by about 275%, compared to a gain of just under 40% for the 60 percent in the middle of America's income distribution."
posted by Tom-B at 12:52 PM on September 12, 2013


stbalbach: " Since this has been ongoing since time immoral"

you're the best, stbalach.
posted by boo_radley at 1:00 PM on September 12, 2013


So the Underclass is the New Middle Class? Makes sense. And so inclusive!
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:46 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


yoink: "Doing a Google search on "emerging middle class" lends strong support to the thesis.

Not one damned fact in that entire opinion piece.


I think you might have missed the tone of the piece a little.
"

Herodios: "1975; Cambodia."

Tom-B: "Um, in the United States it kinda looks like it's submerging"

Or, more likely: the tone of the article is as pointless as the cliche it mocks. And wrong.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:46 PM on September 12, 2013


« Older "Gentlemen: I have a story that may be of interest...  |  What if a typical family spent... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments