Geographies of development: without the poor.
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Some contemporary narratives of development give privileged status to middle classes in the global South. In the face of intractable poverty, policy makers take heart from the success stories of ordinary people who have, over generations, realised and consolidated the gains of development and who embody society at its most functional. Their presumed virtues are their self‐sufficiency, their ability to articulate with the global economy, their buying power, and their good sense as responsible citizens. This, the first of three reports on geographies of development, reflects on recent research that interrogates the privileged status of middle classes in some narratives of development. As this burgeoning literature suggests, celebratory narratives elide the complex circumstances that make and unmake middle classes. Furthermore, middle class gains do not automatically translate into development for others. Indeed, efforts to centre the middle class threaten to displace, and justify the displacement of, economically marginalised groups seen as surplus to development.
URIFinal editied version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0309132511431933