Latin America's Middle Class: Unsettled Debates and New Histories

Latin America's Middle Class: Unsettled Debates and New Histories

By: Louise E. Walker (editor), David S. Parker (editor)Paperback

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As middle classes in developing countries grow in size and political power, do they foster stable democracies and prosperous, innovative economies? Or do they encourage crass materialism, bureaucratic corruption, unrealistic social demands, and ideological polarization? These questions have taken on a new urgency in recent years but they are not new, having first appeared in the mid twentieth century in debates about Latin America. At a moment when exploding middle classes in the global South increasingly capture the world's attention, these Latin American classics are ripe for revisiting. Part One of the book introduces key debates from the 1950s and 1960s, when Cold War era scholars questioned whether or not the middle class would be a force for democracy and development, to safeguard Latin America against the perceived challenge of Revolutionary Cuba. While historian John J. Johnson placed tentative faith in the positive transformative power of the "middle sectors," others were skeptical. The striking disagreements that emerge from these texts lend themselves to discussion about the definition, character, and complexity of the middle classes, and about the assumptions that underpinned twentieth-century modernization theory. Part Two brings together more recent case studies from Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, and Argentina, written by scholars influenced by contemporary trends in social and cultural history. These authors highlight issues of language, identity, gender, and the multiple faces and forms of power. Their studies bring flesh-and-blood Latin Americans to the forefront, reconstructing the daily lives of underpaid office workers, harried housewives and striving professionals, in order to revisit questions that the authors in Part One tended to approach abstractly. They also pay attention to changing cultural understandings and political constructions of who "the middle class" is and what it means to be middle class. Designed with the classroom and non-specialist reader in mind, the book has a comprehensive critical introduction, and each selection is preceded by a short description setting the context and introducing key themes.

About Author

David S. Parker is associate professor of history and former Chair of the History Department at Queen's University, Canada. He is author of The Idea of the Middle Class: White-Collar Workers and Peruvian Society, 1900-1950 (1998), and articles or book chapters on topics ranging from public health reform to images of social climbers in Chilean fiction to dueling among journalists and politicians in Uruguay. Louise E. Walker is assistant professor of history at Northeastern University in Boston. She is the author of Waking from the Dream: Mexico's Middle Classes after 1968 (2012). She is currently coediting a special dossier on Mexico's recently declassified secret police archive for the Journal of Iberian and Latin American Research (2013, with Tanalis Padilla). Her research projects also include the history of conspiracy theories.


Introduction: The Making and Endless Remaking of the Middle Class David S. Parker Part 1: The Debates, 1947-1968 Chapter 1: Middle Groups in National Politics in Latin America John J. Johnson Chapter 2: Aspects of Class Relations in Chile, 1850-1960 Frederick B. Pike Chapter 3: Community Pillars: The Middle Class Andrew H. Whiteford Chapter 4: The Budget Mario Benedetti Chapter 5: Middle-Class Rebels Francisco Lopez Camara Chapter 6: The Dilemma of the Latin American Middle Class Charles Wagley Part 2: New Histories Chapter 7: Moralizing the Masses William E. French Chapter 8: White-Collar Lima, 1910-1929: Commercial Employees and the Rise of the Peruvian Middle Class David S. Parker Chapter 9: Domesticating Modernity: Markets, Home, and Morality in the Middle Class in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, 1930s and 1940s Brian P. Owensby Chapter 10: "It Is Not Something You Can Be or Come to Be Overnight": Empleados, Mujeres de Oficina, and Gendered Middle Class Identities in Bogota, Colombia, 1930-55 A. Ricardo Lopez-Pedreros Chapter 11: Rethinking Aspects of Class Relations in Twentieth-Century Chile J. Pablo Silva Chapter 12: We Were the Middle Class Rodolfo Barros

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9780739168530
  • Format: Paperback
  • Number Of Pages: 236
  • ID: 9780739168530
  • weight: 363
  • ISBN10: 0739168533

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