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Elite and Everyman: The Cultural Politics of the Indian Middle Classes

Amita Baviskar (Editor) Raka Ray (Editor)
This landmark volume examines the middle classes- who they are and what they do – their influence in shaping contemporary cultural politics in India. It describes the historical emergence of these classes, their changing relationships with colonial power, the Indian state, and other social groups.

The articles in the book examine the changing profile of the middle class, with older groups shifting out and new entrants taking up residence, thereby transforming the character and meanings of the category. Across multiple sites of social action- workplaces and homes, schools and streets, cinema and sex surveys, temples and tourist hotels- this definitive volume delineates the lives of the middle classes and shows how middle-class definitions and desire articulate hegemonic notions of the normal and the normative.

In a provocative yet compelling argument, Elite and Everyman shows how, despite being a heterogeneous, internally differentiated social formation, the middle class has become a powerful unifying idea that drives political discourse on matters ranging from economic and social policy to international affairs. Ironically, the cultural dominance of this supposedly enlightened group may be responsible for undermining and subverting the democratic possibilities inherent in Indian politics.

This book will be required reading for scholars of sociology, anthropology, politics, urbanization, development studies, modern history and South Asian studies, and all those interested in social change.
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About the authors

Amita Baviskar

Amita Baviskar is Associate Professor of Sociology at the Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi.

Raka Ray

Raka Ray is associate professor of sociology and South and Southeast Asia studies and chair of the Center for South Asia Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Her areas of specialization are gender and feminist theory, social movements, and relations between dominant and subaltern groups in India. Publications include Fields of Protest: Women's Movements in India (University of Minnesota, 1999; Kali for Women, 2000), "Masculinity, Femininity And Servitude: Domestic Workers in Calcutta in the Late Twentieth Century" in Feminist Studied (26.3), and (with Seemin Qayum) "Grappling with Modernity: Calcutta's Respectable Classes and the Culture of Domestic Servitude" in Ethnography (4.4, 2003).

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Bibliographic information

Title Elite and Everyman: The Cultural Politics of the Indian Middle Classes
Format Hardcover
Date published: 25.05.2011
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 9780415677981
length xii+468p., Bibliography; Index; 23cm.