i n t r o d u c t i o n
We Shall Be All
t o w a r d a t r a n s n a t i o n a l h i s t o r y o f t h e m i d d l e c l a s s
A. Ricardo López with Barbara Weinstein
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I
t is hardly coincidental that the middle class—as a concept and as a prac-
tice—is at the center of current political discussions about globalization.
Spokespersons for international organizations and US government officials,
technocrats, journalists, politicians, and scholars across the political spectrum
and around the world are talking about the middle class. With intense social
interest and political anxiety, we now witness the organization of conferences,
the promotion of publications, the making of documentaries, and, not least
important, the institutionalization of nonprofit and governmental initiatives
that foreground the middle class. But what exactly is at stake in all this talk
about the middle class? For some commentators, it is clear that a consolida-
tion of a ‘‘middle-class consensus’’ could become a fundamental conduit to
global economic prosperity and political stability. Resurrecting and modifying
some of the major arguments of 1950s modernization theory, both scholarly
studies and policy programs propose the creation of a ‘‘global middle class’’
that would eventually legitimize globalization and neoliberalism. Some schol-
ars seem to argue that once every society around the world promotes the
creation of a worldwide middle class, neoliberal and global social orders would
be beyond question. Indeed, these prophets of neoliberal globalization con-
tend that this global middle class would (finally) abolish the ‘‘age of politics’’ by
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