“African middle classes”, popularized by the 2011 African Development Bank report, often stand as a symbol of the economic and demographic dynamism of the continent. Their announced emergence feeds into a certain number of expectations in the economic and political spheres: growth driven by domestic demand, potential new markets, democratization, and so on. Yet, the category “African middle class” and associated interpretations must be considered carefully. In Africa, as elsewhere in the world, the notion of middle class remains controversial: consensus is lacking on both, its definition and its criteria. Polysemous, vague, and encompassing, the term can cover a wide range of socio-economic situations.
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