African Middle Classes and Social Protest - Campaign

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African Middle Classes and Social Protest

Call for Papers Special Issue

Guest editors: Antje Daniel, Henning Melber and Florian Stoll

Abstract Deadline: 31st January 2019

African middle classes, social protest and socioeconomic advancement


The majority of concepts on African (middle) class and stratification, as well as theories on protest, were developed in a Northern context.

In contrast, this special issue takes African middle classes and their relation to protest as a starting point. This change of perspective is supposed to enrich the debate on middle classes and social movements in Africa against the backdrop of differences in the histories, social structures, political systems and scholarly debates in African societies.

Contributions will explore in different ways, and from different perspectives, the specific features of middle classes, social movements and their relation to change.

In recent years, many millions of individuals in African countries benefited from a rise in their socioeconomic position. Their economic advancement also influenced their lifestyles, political attitudes and activities.

This initial discourse on the new African middle classes was, however, to a large extent shaped and influenced by reductionist economistic interpretations. These approaches were mainly confined to a definition based on a low threshold of monetary income/expenditure.

In the last few years, more and more authors have questioned purely economistic perspectives for their fuzziness. Since then, there has been a gradual shift towards more nuanced analyses. These alternative views consider other relevant components as well, such as status and political awareness. Other studies examine factors related to culture, lifestyle, ethnicity and/or ‘race’, religion and more aspects, which a proper assessment of the middle classes (rather in the plural to recognize the diversity) requires.

African middle classes and social movements

Recent contributions frequently assume that middle class actors are politically engaged, but few studies provide convincing empirical evidence; in contrast, social movement studies often consider and link forms of protest to class consciousness without relating to middle class debates The special focus has the aim to enter new territory by combining a middle class perspective with a social movement approach with regard to the following questions:

  • To what extent are middle class actors politically engaged? Do politicians refer to a middle class belonging in order to attract voters?

  • Under which conditions do middle classes share the same political consciousness and symbols, and which roles do attitudes, or lifestyles play? Do social movements build upon shared consciousness, symbols, attitudes or lifestyle in their mobilization process?

  • Thus, to what extent and how do segments of middle classes interact or overlap with social movements in order to explain in more detail who contributes to initiatives aiming for social and political change?

  • To what extent and how do middle class activists built up alliances to upper and lower class activists? Do these alliances bridge existing socio-economic disparities and differences in lifestyles?

  • Which concepts and theories can explain the relation between middle classes and protest taking into consideration contextual particularities of different African settings?

We invite scholars to submit articles that address one or more of these questions. Conceptual, theoretical as well as empiric contributions are welcome. Learn more about the journal.

Please sent abstracts of maximum 500 words to

Antje Daniel (

Henning Melber ( and

Florian Stoll (

Deadline for abstracts: 31 January 2018
Submission of drafts: 30 April 2019
Submission JCAS: 31 July 2019

How to Submit:

Guidelines about how to submit manuscripts, including style and word limits, can be found on the journal’s website

See also Taylor & Francis's tips for for authors

Journal of Contemporary African Studies

Table of Contents for Journal of Contemporary African Studies. List of articles from both the latest and ahead of print issues.

Language: en-US

Publisher: Routledge

Visit Journal Articles

The cover page of the Journal of Contemporary African Studies