Being Middle-class in India: A Way of Life

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Henrike Donner
Routledge, Jun 25, 2012 - Social Science - 232 pages
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Hailed as the beneficiary, driving force and result of globalisation, India’s middle-class is puzzling in its diversity, as a multitude of traditions, social formations and political constellations manifest contribute to this project. This book looks at Indian middle-class lifestyles through a number of case studies, ranging from a historical account detailing the making of a savvy middle-class consumer in the late colonial period, to saving clubs among women in Delhi’s upmarket colonies and the dilemmas of entrepreneurial families in Tamil Nadu’s industrial towns.

The book pays tribute to the diversity of regional, caste, rural and urban origins that shape middle- class lifestyles in contemporary India and highlights common themes, such as the quest for upward mobility, common consumption practices, the importance of family values, gender relations and educational trajectories. It unpacks the notion that the Indian middle-class can be understood in terms of public performances, surveys and economic markers, and emphasises how the study of middle-class culture needs to be based on detailed studies, as everyday practices and private lives create the distinctive sub-cultures and cultural politics that characterise the Indian middle class today. With its focus on private domains middleclassness appears as a carefully orchestrated and complex way of life and presents a fascinating way to understand South Asian cultures and communities through the prism of social class.


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1 Masculinity advertising and the reproduction of the middleclass family in Western India 19181940
New regimes of gender and food in Bengali middleclass lifestyles
Work education and gender hierarchies among Tiruppurs industrial capitalists
The consturction of selfhood among middleclass youth in Baroda
5 Globalization neoliberalism and middleclass cultural politics in Kolkata
Doctors social mobility and the middle classes
7 Kittyparties and middleclass femininity in New Delhi
The new middle classes and the changing forms of Hindi cinema

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About the author (2012)

Henrike Donner is currently Professor for Indian Society and Culture at the Centre for Modern Indian Studies, Georg-August Universität, Göttingen, Germany. Her research interests include urban anthropology, gender and kinship.

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