This Briefing and Debate article critically engages with the middle class phenomenon,
which emerged as a prominent focus in Development and African Studies. Göran
Therborn already wondered if we were entering a century of the middle class. He
suggested that the middle class society had emerged as the symbol of an alternative
future (Therborn 2012, 17), being promoted among others by the OECD report on
global development perspectives (OECD 2011) and Nancy Birdsall (2010).