Afterword
Mrinalini Sinha
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T
his volume, as A. Ricardo López announces in the introduction, is meant
as an intervention in, and a provocation to, the recent outpouring of both
academic and popular writing that is already coalescing around the rubric of
global middle-class studies. This efflorescence in recent years, of course, is
connected precisely to the centrality of the middle class to current discussions
about globalization. Take the following example. In February 2009, the Econo-
mist heralded an important global milestone: for the first time in history,
apparently, as a result of the exponential economic growth in countries like
China and India, the majority of the world’s population could now be declared
middle class.∞ The growing middle class of Asia had allegedly already out-
numbered the middle class of Europe and North America somewhere around
2007 or 2008. The article, while recognizing the difficulty of defining who is
middle class, arrives at a definition based on having a percentage—starting at
roughly a third—of one’s income available for discretionary spending after
paying for basic food and shelter.
The article also recognizes that it may be best to speak of middle classes
rather than a single middle class. This middle class is plural because it is
comprised of both a creamy layer of a properly global middle class, whose
members’ income levels would put them at home in any part of the world, and
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