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Inequality and Middle Class Development in Africa





Against the background of a renewed interest in the impact of the distribution of income and wealth on socioeconomic development, this Workshop invites scholars and practitioners to focus on the potential of an emerging middle class in Africa to foster inclusive growth and play a transformative socio-political role in their respective countries.

The Workshop is organized by the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA) in cooperation with the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJRI) and the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU) at the University of Cape Town.

In the course of three days, it aims to provide participants with the opportunity to critically engage with questions around the development of a middle class in Africa from different perspectives, including

  • Measurement and data issues regarding class definitions and economic inequality

  • Its relationship with economic development

  • Its transformative socio-political role

The Workshop is directed at researchers, policy makers, development practitioners, and bilateral and multilateral institutions, as well as students of African studies, political science, political economy, development studies, and development economics.

It will provide a space to present current research results, structure the debate and exchange ideas between research and policy making, and deliberate on joint strategies for a more integrated approach to the understanding of middle class formation, its segmentation, as well as its political and social orientations. It seeks to facilitate exchange and lay the foundation for future collaborative work among the participants.

Workshop format The Workshop will start with a Public Debate on South Africa's Black Middle Class on Wednesday evening. Further highlights are the two keynote lectures as well as an expert panel discussion on the political and developmental implications of middle class formation in sub-Saharan Africa. There will be two thematic parallel sessions with paper presentations on each day and a poster session. In addition, two interactive formats will allow for dialogue, input and collaboration of all participants.

Speakers Three keynote lectures will be given by:

Other speakers and panelists:

  • Prof. Ronelle Burger (Research on Socio-economic Policy (RESEP), University of Stellenbosch)

  • Prof. Murray Leibbrandt (School of Economics, SALDRU, University of Cape Town)

  • Prof. Robert Mattes (Democracy in Africa Research Unit, University of Cape Town)

  • Prof. Henning Melber (The Nordic Africa Institute, Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation, Universities of Pretoria and of the Free State South Africa)

  • Lumkile Mondi (School of Economics and Business Science, University of the Witwatersrand)

  • Dr. Mzukusi Qobo (University of Pretoria and columnist for the Business Day newspaper)

  • Dr. Danielle Resnick (Development Strategies and Governance Division, IFPRI)

  • Prof. Jeremy Seekings (Centre for Social Science Research, University of Cape Town)

  • Dr. Abebe Shimeless (Development Research Division, African Development Bank Group)

  • Prof. Roger Southall (Society, Work and Development Institute (SWOP), University of the Witwatersrand)

  • Asmus Zoch (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch)

Social events In addition to the main conference agenda, there will be a workshop dinner.

Organisation The Workshop is organized jointly by the GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies and the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) in cooperation with the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU) of the University of Cape Town.

The organizing committee includes :

For further details please contact Simone Schotte inequality-middleclass-workshop@giga-hamburg.de.

Timeline Submission of paper abstracts 21 February 2016 Notification of acceptance End of February Full registration via registration form 03 April 2016 Submission of full papers 24 April 2016 Submission of posters 28 April 2016 Conference 4 - 6 May 2016


The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, Southern African Labour and Development Research Unit, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung e.V.


We would like to ask you to register for this event. The registration is free of charge. Once you have successfully registered, you will receive a confirmation e-mail. If you do not receive this e-mail (make sure you check your spam folder), please contact us: events@giga-hamburg.de. You will receive your personal participation link and further information by e-mail before the online event starts. By registering, you agree to the GIGA's data protection guidelines. We will update our data protection notice as necessary. You can find the current version at: https://www.giga-hamburg.de/en/data-protection.