Capabilities approach

What does the ‘middle class’ mean in a polarised, developing country such as South Africa?

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Ronelle Burger, Camren McAravey on 11 March 2014

In a developing, highly unequal country such as South Africa, it is unlikely that a definition of the middle class that is based on an income threshold will adequately capture the political and social meanings of being middle class. We propose a multi-dimensional definition, rooted in the ideas of empowerment and capability, and find that the ‘empowered middle class’ has expanded significantly since 1993. It also is much larger than when measured in terms of income.