Contemporary Middle Class in Latin America

Contemporary Middle Class in Latin America : A Study of San Felipe

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In the last decades, the Latin American middle class is growing in size while becoming more heterogeneous. Sustained economic growth explains its increasing size, but behind its heterogeneity there is not only the diversification of lifestyles, but also the crystallization of a large process of upward social mobility of second and third generation migrants to capital cities and their incorporation into middle-class positions. In the last decades, these individuals are now part of the different spheres of socialization formerly occupied by the traditional middle class: private schools, college and universities, middle-class jobs and occupations, and traditional middle-class neighborhoods. To explore the genesis of this phenomenon and its consequences, the author studies Residential San Felipe, a quintessential traditional middle-class neighborhood in Lima, Peru, which is currently receiving an important influx of upwardly mobile families. The case of San Felipe shows that inside the contemporary middle class a strong boundary between the "traditional middle class" and the "new middle class" permeates the everyday life of the neighborhood. However, though this difference between the "traditional" and "new middle class" is recognized by all residents of San Felipe, its relevance as well as the elements at the basis of this distinction more

Product details

  • Hardback | 158 pages
  • 154.94 x 228.6 x 17.78mm | 408.23g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 1 Graphs; 9 Tables, unspecified; 1 Maps; 3 Halftones, black and white
  • 0739191063
  • 9780739191064

Review quote

This is a most welcome and insightful case study of the emerging urban middle classes in Latin America. In this fascinating ethnography, Pereyra draws out convincingly the general from the particular, showing that being middle class in Lima is a status and life style and not just an occupational class. He brings to life the clash of values that pits the older generations against the younger and the socially mobile newcomers from poor neighborhoods, with the former seeing worth as appropriate behavior whereas the latter groups emphasize economic success. The meaning of being middle class is changing in Lima, but, as Pereyra shows, slowly and with adjustment pains. -- Bryan R. Roberts, University of Texas at Austin Latin American middle classes are often appealed to by politicians and advertisers but are, in fact, little understood, and often taken for granted by scholars as little more than a residual category between elites and the poor. This terrific new book rights these tendencies while opening up new research vistas in which middle classes are both fluid and plural, and constantly in redefinition against others. Drawing on some of the very best traditions of urban ethnography and firmly anchored in a relational and cultural sociology, this book illuminates what it is like to be a middle class Sanfelipano while making an important contribution to our understanding of a broader Latin American phenomenon. -- Gianpaolo Baiocchi, New York University Omar Pereyra combines methodological sophistication with an intimate sense of place and a sharp eye for cultural subtleties and human foibles. His case study-a unique 33-building complex built in the 1960s for public- and private-sector employees-offers a near-perfect venue to examine generational change and intergenerational conflict within Lima's middle classes. As traditional white-collar and professional groups decline and age, new middle groups have emerged that are more entrepreneurial, often wealthier but less stable, and-significantly-more ethnically diverse. By looking at relations among these distinct middle-class actors in a dense suburban environment, Pereyra explores Peruvian race construction and racism, why migration history and education are crucial class markers, how people defend or challenge symbolic boundaries between "us" and "not-us," the politics and infrapolitics of apartment living, and the frequent distance between expressed social attitudes and observed social interactions. -- David Parker, Queen's Universityshow more

About Omar Pereyra

Omar Pereyra is professor of sociology at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del more

Table of contents

Introduction: Approaching the Latin American Middle-Class Chapter 1: San Felipe and the Transformation of the Social and Urban Space Chapter 2: Trajectories: Sanfelipanos Merge in Place Chapter 3: Boundaries: Sanfelipanos Evaluate their Neighbors Chapter 4: Controlling Common Space: Making Local Power Work Conclusions: Groups, Classes and Generationsshow more

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