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Pathways into the Middle: Rites of Passage and Emerging Middle Classes in Namibia

  • Julia Pauli
Chapter
Part of the Frontiers of Globalization book series (FOG)

Abstract

This anthropological chapter analyses how members of the Namibian middle class have thoroughly changed the form and meaning of important rites of passage from open ceremonies to exclusive pathways into and for the middle class. The term ‘middle class’ is used as an analytical category to describe social differentiation and inequality. The author also looks at practices of ‘being and becoming middle class’, blending approaches that perceive ‘middle class’ as an aspirational category with those that focus on boundary making aspects of ‘middle class(es)’. In addition, the term elite is used to mark social differentiations that depend on context and scale. During apartheid, only a small indigenous elite existed within the artificial ‘homelands’, while a ‘white’ minority occupied national elite and middle-class positions. With independence in 1990, a new, ‘black’ middle class emerged in urban areas, which is still strongly connected to its rural ‘homeland’. The author suggests labelling this group as ‘class commuters’. When visiting their rural ‘homelands’, they blend into the local rural elite. But during most of their time, they are part of the urban Namibian middle classes.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julia Pauli
    • 1
  1. 1.Universität HamburgHamburgGermany

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