The ascension of the middle class (MC) in rapidly transforming economies of East Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East is one of the most remarkable phenomena of recent decades. Given the magnitude of the changes felt by vast numbers of households across the globe as well as the importance the issue holds in the realms of society, politics, business, economics, and culture, examining the middle classes in emerging markets (EMs) will be a topic of investigation for years to come in multiple areas of academic inquiry.
While a consensus definition may not exist, the middle class generally refers to growing number of households in EMs who have access to a substantial disposable income that they can now direct towards discretionary purchases. One benchmark is having at least 30 percent of total household income available for discretionary consumption. The business community is not alone in studying the MC phenomenon. Scholars from such disciplines as film, media, communication, sociology, anthropology, political science, literature, education, history, art, urban studies, geography, and architecture are also actively examining this topic. A special interest of some scholars is to contrast the contemporary developments in EMs with those already experienced by mature, post-industrial economies. Some also approach the middle class as a social phenomenon that derives meaning from social and cultural practices, while others treat it as political power with the capacity to shape a country’s social, political, economic, and cultural landscape.
By design, this conference continues to bring together scholars from multiple disciplines and countries to examine the middle class in emerging markets from at least three key themes: consumers, citizens, and the media.
•Capture what we already know about, and generate a holistic understanding, of the middle class phenomenon in emerging markets
•Formulate and advance a multi-disciplinary research agenda
•Facilitate the formation of collaborative research networks among scholars
•Prepare and disseminate an edited book, featuring select papers presented at the conference (Additional publications may include a reader on middle class in emerging economies.)
The Centers for International Business Education and Research (CIBERs) were created by Congress under the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 to increase and promote the nation's capacity for international understanding and competitiveness. Administered by the U.S. Department of Education under Title VI, Part B of the Higher Education Act of 1965, the CIBER network links the manpower and technological needs of the United States business community with the international education, language training, and research capacities of universities across the country. The 33 CIBERs serve as regional and national resources to business people, students, and teachers at all levels. This grant program adheres to the Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) Title 34, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Parts 74-86 and 97-99.[More]