Moving on up: Symbolic boundary creation and upward mobility amongst middle and professional classes in the global South

Thematic Session at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association

Place: Montréal, Canada

Date: August 12-15, 2017

Session Organizers: Swethaa S. Ballakrishnen (NYU Abu Dhabi), Jules Naudet (Centre de Sciences Humaines, New Delhi)

Over the last three decades, global inequality has become increasingly characterized by within-country rather than between-country income inequality (Firebaugh 2003). And while there is contestation over the role globalization plays in this process (Giddens 1999), the diffusion of neoliberalism has undoubtedly shaped the way in which mobility is experienced and symbolic boundaries are traced across the world. This panel seeks to critically examine the contemporary reconfiguration of this stratification amongst upper-middle, middle and professional classes in global South sites where these processes are particularly rampant. It comprises papers that decode the ways in which established social structures and traditional hierarchies in these countries are being renegotiated through social, cultural and economic processes.

Unlike established postindustrial societies, we expect sites in the global south to allow us a window into understanding meaning-making processes as a response to global cultural references and exchanges. We not only seek to gain a better understanding of the composition of these new kinds of elite mobility but also of the ways in which the boundaries that demarcate “elite”, “professionals” and “middle class” are defined anew in a globalizing world. What are the new markers of class in these sites? How do these frame pre-existing norms and cultural repertoires? What can that tell us about the complex relationship between globalization and stratification? We expect these comparisons to help inform new ways of understanding both similarities and difference between national cases; as well as to introduce new ways of thinking through concepts and methodologies inherited from the West.

Panelists: Swethaa S. Ballakrishnen (NYU Abu Dhabi), Carola Lentz (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz), Omar Pereyra (Brown University), Surinder Jodhka (Centre for Social Sciences and Humanities)

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