The Middle Classes in Small-Town Pakistan: Politics of Accumulation

Case Of Rampaging Elephants: The Politics Of The Middle Classes In Small-Town Pakistan” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2022.2136103) is a new JCA article by Asha Amirali of the Centre for Development Studies and Department of Social and Policy Sciences, University of Bath, UK.

The abstract for the paper states:

This article draws on a year of ethnographic fieldwork with traders in a Pakistani agricultural commodity market. It analyses their business and wider networking strategies to show how they – as a segment of Pakistan’s middle classes – perceive and interact with the state in the process of accumulation. Ordered by custom, contract, and selective engagement with state functionaries who also engage them selectively, traders’ economic activity is inextricably bound up with political practices that defy democratic principles. Neither a concern with the public good nor programmatic politics is visible in what traders do; the state is viewed as an instrument of accumulation while itself appearing to have no project of its own separate from the local dominant classes; and collective organisation both substitutes for the regulatory state and staves off its attempts at enforcement. These trends further militate against viewing the middle classes as catalysts of democracy and have important implications for development strategies seeking to reform the state.

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