MIDDLE CLASS, 1955–1976
he mass culture explored in this book con-
an image of Argentina that did not ac-
curately reflect reality. By the mid-1920s, Argentina
was a dynamic, mobile society that had apparently
left behind the fierce class conflicts of earlier decades.
In the expanding barrios of Buenos Aires, a hetero-
geneous population pursued the opportunities that
economic development provided. While there were
of course many poor people who struggled to sur-
vive in the city and beyond, a sizable and growing
segment of the population lived in the broad middle
ground between rich and poor. Yet domestically pro-
duced mass culture depicted Argentine society as
fundamentally bipolar. In tango lyrics, radio plays,
and films of all genres, an honest, dignified, and
long-suffering pueblo confronted condescending and
egotistical aristocrats. One of my central claims is
that this disjuncture between reality and represen-
tation was produced by the dynamics of Argentina’s
transnational cultural marketplace. Another is that
over time the representation came to exert a power-
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