Category Archives: Blog

The Role of the Middle Class(es) in the Transitions of Southern African Societies – Critical Current and Historical Perspectives

By Henning Melber

This session, which was attended by some 20 participants, had its main focus on the South African case study. Roger Southall (University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg) presented an in-depth historical and current analysis on The Black Middle Class and Democracy in South Africa. After a summary overview on the historical trajectories of an emerging black middle class (BMC), closely associated with the political struggles under the leadership of the African national Congress (ANC), he shifted the main attention to the currently emerging BMC, positioned between the market and the party state as the two dominant factors for upward social mobility in democratic South Africa. He asked if members of a class depicted as increasingly consumerist would consistently support progressive causes, will act as a democratic force and be willing or likely to bite the hand of the party-state that feeds them. Continue reading

Multidimensional Poverty

By Isabel Naguib

The gap between rich and poor is often used to illustrate the unequal global distribution of wealth. However, just as richness is not just about money, poverty is neither. Resulting from the capability approach, which addresses this myopic conception of poverty, stating that poverty must not be measured only on income, a set of parameters is used to establish an index that goes beyond a mere monetary view on the topic. This Multidimensional Poverty Index, MPI, hence leads to a better understanding of poverty in its different aspects.
The EADI Working Group on Multidimensional Poverty focuses on this method of measuring poverty. In the meeting on 24 June 2014, chaired by Keetie Roelen from the Institute of Development Studies, four speakers delivered five presentations on various approaches and topics that at some point included this multi-faceted view on poverty.

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The challenges of global learning at higher education

By Ricard Giné

The discussion panel has aimed to contribute to the current debates around development education and global learning. Specifically, the goal has been to examine the nature of main barriers to an effective introduction of development and global themes in higher education, but also, more broadly, the challenges, threats and opportunities to the promotion of global learning within universities. The debate has been organized around three central guiding questions, namely i) why global learning should be promoted in a University environment?; ii) which are the main barriers and opportunities to effectively promote it?; and iii) which are the main recommendations to be translated to policy makers, university teachers and students to spread global learning? These topics have been debated by three key speakers: Matt Baillie Smith, from Northumbria University; La Salete Coelho, from Instituto Politécnico de Viana do Castelo; and Elisabeth Miles, from Coventry University; in a discussion moderated by Alejandra Boni (Universitat Politècnica de València).

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Norms and Values of New Middle Class Consumers and Citizens: What do they care about?

By Mary Rutenge

To open the panel session, an overview on a paper by Alejandro Guarin, (GDI/DIE, Germany) and Peter Knorringa (Erasmus University, The Netherland) was presented titled ‘New Middle-Class Consumers in Rising Powers: Responsible Consumption and Private Standards’ .The paper raised two main points: the issue of discretionary consumption and on how little is known about consumer behaviours of emerging countries due to limited existing research.
This was followed by three presentations. The first one was on ‘Kenya’s Emerging Middle Class’ by Lena Kroeker (University of Bayreuth, Germany). She tackled two sets of questions: What are the heterogeneous socio-cultural contexts of the middle class in Kenya? And what aims and interest do middle class formulate, hence, what personal developments do they work towards? She gave five categorization of middle class (as initial findings) based on income, consumption, middle income as the middle of the society, Identity / Belonging and Milieus.

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Poverty and the Middle Classes

By Atika Pasha

The second session of the working group on Multidimensional Poverty covered the topic of Poverty and the middle classes over a wide range of data and within-country comparisons. A prominent discussion point within the session was the broader outlines along which the middle class can and has been defined. While some definitions pertain to income and some to occupations, there are those that relate to more non-monetary variables of categorization, while some are based on an abstract idea or an altogether different notion of well-being. The recurring aspect within each presentations and paper was to describe the role of the middle class, by evaluating its nature in terms of its vulnerability to poverty, its involvement in the political machinations of the nation, the economic role it plays and the related social and cultural changes that might precede or be caused by it.

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The Continuing Problems with Development Knowledge: What may be done

By Maya Turolla

Chair and Session organiser: Mike Powell, IKM United Kingdom

This panel aimed at projecting a bigger picture on knowledge and development: not a critique on academic knowledge production, but to consider how knowledge is paid by development money: great total spend of WB (600 million dollars).
Mike Powel started with a reflection on what do we mean with development? He argued that development would be something that takes evolves in individual societies, not something that can be determined somewhere else. He continued with the core of the panel session: the role of knowledge. He argued that it has great instrumental value, but knowledge also requires human interaction and capacity in order to use that knowledge. He explained that the focus of the panel would be on old issues inherent to development studies, which have not been solved in the past decades. One of these big issues is the disconnection from the people that the published papers are addressing, and their local processes of knowing. Mike Power argued that only few scholars are going out of the traditional ways of producing knowledge in order to reach the local understandings of knowledge: media and operational knowledge. The form and format of knowledge is often not usable other than publications: problem of incentive structure of academia and funding.

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Questioning the Dominant Conception of Development: New Dimensions, New Ideas, New Approaches


By Johannes Wegmann

Clara Brandi, (DIE-GDI), commented on the three papers presented on the panel. She pointed out that classifying developing countries is important 1) for analytical purposes and 2) for operational purposes with a view to policy question and ODA distribution. The traditional taxonomy has largely focused on income per capita, thereby disregarding other dimensions of development and development-relevant changes over time. Clara Brandi suggested that the paper by Stephan Klasen et al. should not only stress the advantages of the LDC approach but should also pay adequate attention to the challenges of that category. She mentioned four drawbacks of the approach: 1) There is no broader taxonomy of developing countries, 2) it is rather static, 3) a third of all LDCs are middle income countries by now and 4) it is a binary approach, and hence no gradual differentiation of development exists. Furthermore, she suggested focusing where the LDC approach matters in practice. For example, the LDC approach has a political impact in the context of international trade questions where it is the only country category that is legally acknowledged in the WTO.

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Tackling inequality through ‘responsible development’ – Plenary Session II

By Laura Camfield

DIRK MESSNER established the agenda as addressing poverty reduction in middle income countries, while acknowledging additional challenges in fragile states; fostering debate about the role of the global middle classes; and addressing widespread inequality spanning the global North and South. He noted the global and country-specific drivers of inequality and the actions that could be taken to tackle these. Finally, he highlighted the importance of sustainability – the right to development within limited planetary boundaries – and introduced the panel who would speak to these questions. Continue reading

Collaborations, encounters and partnerships: new spaces for citizenship and learning?


By Santeri Suvanto

The session was hosted by DEEEP/CONCORD and EADI WG “Global Learning meets Development”, which was initially established to address the growing disconnect between development education and international development.
This first session of the EADI WG series discussed the question of ‘Collaborations, encounters and partnerships: new spaces for citizenship and learning?’ The presenters addressed the importance of grass root community level cooperation and the resilience that derives from personal enthusiasm to community development, as an opportunity and a necessity for sustainable global development.

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