The Developing Economies

Volume 41, Number 2 (June 2003)

■ The Developing Economies Volume 41, Number 2 (June 2003)
■ B5
■ 105pp
■ June 2003

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Introduction: The Emergence of the Asian Middle Classes and Their Characteristics (51KB) / Tamio Hattori, Tsuruyo Funatsu, and Takashi Torii

The Emergence of the Asian Middle Classes and Their Characteristics (472KB) / Tamio Hattori and Tsuruyo Funatsu


Tamio Hattori and Tsuruyo Funatsu, "The Emergence of the Asian Middle Classes and Their Characteristics," pp. 140-60.

The middle classes in Asian countries, which emerged rapidly in environments that were significantly different from those in the West, share some common features, but differ from one another on a number of other counts. Important among the similarities is that their nation-building efforts after independence were perforce ambivalent in that, while pursuing economic growth in condensed ways, they tried to maintain the integrity of the state by emphasizing traditional values. On the other hand, they differ from one another in terms of the peculiarities of the preconditions they faced when launching development, the social structure specific to each, and the time at which and the strategy under which they began to pursue economic growth. These factors have brought diversity into the Asian middle classes' development processes and characteristics. This paper examines the diversity of the middle classes that are now in a process of emergence in Asia.

Tai-lok Lui, "Rearguard Politics: Hong Kong's Middle Class," pp. 161-83.

This paper reports on the emergence of the middle class in contemporary Hong Kong. First, it gives the historical background of the rise of the middle class in the 1970s. This historical background is important to our understanding of Hong Kong's middle class because it highlights its symbolic significance----the realization of the so-called Hong Kong dream----in the context of the local society. It is also relevant to our understanding of the shaping of its political outlook. The second section explores why the middle class stayed away from politics when the future of Hong Kong and democratization were the main topics in the political agenda of the 1980s and 1990s. Finally, the paper rounds up its discussion by reporting on the new grievances of the middle class amid the economic downturn after the Asian Financial Crisis.

Keiko T. Tamura, "The Emergence and Political Consciousness of the Middle Class in Singapore," pp. 184-200.

Singapore is an example showing that economic development, the affluence it creates, the emergence of a large middle class do not inevitably lead to liberal democracy. This study examines the present situation and problem of Singapore's middle class. It first describes the emergence and the characteristics of this class. It then examines the political control of the People's Action Party government, which has crushed democratic movements in the bud, and the government's discriminatory policies, such as in education and housing, which favor the growing middle class. Lastly, it discusses new problems that are arising from the middle class's mammonism and resultant political passivity. In conclusion this study foresees that to keep the supply of material goods flowing to the middle class, the government will have to push for even greater economic development, which means that the role of the state in Singapore is likely to become even greater than before.

Shin Arita, "The Growth of the Korean Middle Class and Its Social Consciousness," pp. 201-20.

The middle class in the Republic of Korea grew quickly in the course of the country's rapid economic growth. This paper analyzes the characteristics of Korea's new and old middle classes by examining the socioeconomic conditions, experience of mobility, and social consciousness of the people in these classes. Analysis shows that many people presently in these well-off classes have experienced intra- and intergenerational mobility. While the old middle class is greatly open to both inter- and intragenerational inflow, the new middle class is close to intragenerational inflow. The probability of reaching the new middle class is greatly affected by one's level of education; however, education level largely depends on one's class origin. It is also shown that the Korean new middle class has a comparatively progressive social consciousness. However, people's political attitudes are determined not by one's position in the class structure but by nonclass factors, such as one's age, education level, and native region.

Takashi Torii, "The Mechanism for State-Led Creation of Malaysia's Middle Classes," pp. 221-42.

This paper analyzes the mechanism for creation of middle classes in Malaysia since 1971.The United Malays National Organization-led government has implemented three long-term development plans. One of the objectives of the New Economic Policy (NEP) for raising the economic positions of the Bumiputera (sons of the soil) was to create Malay middle classes. The development process has taken place in three phases: from the launching of NEP in 1971 to1981, the first half of the Mahathir administration, and from 1991 to the present. At the start of NEP, government had an ambiguous idea about simply creating Malay middle classes. After the 1980s, however, Mahathir emphasized creating middle classes in relation to his industrialization policy. In order to achieve its target and intention, the Malaysian government has changed its role in accordance with the targets it has sought.

Tsuruyo Funatsu and Kazuhiro Kagoya, "The Middle Classes in Thailand: The Rise of the Urban Intellectual Elite and Their Social Consciousness," pp. 243-63.

This paper, based on an analysis of quantitative survey data, reexamines the stereotype of the Thai "middle class" as a homogeneous elite class at loggerheads with the lower strata. Our results support the contention that the Thai middle classes are, in fact, of mixed social origins, and suggest that their process of emergence is characterized by the fact that a large number have risen from the lower urban strata. We argue that because of these characteristics, the social consciousness of the Thai middle classes is more complex than the stereotyped explanation, and contains elements that cannot be fully explained by a perspective based on class theory.

Masataka Kimura, "The Emergence of the Middle Classes and Political Change in the Philippines," pp. 264-84.

This article provides a study of the middle classes in the Philippines. First, the process of their emergence was examined in relation to that of Philippine industrialization, which started in the 1930s but from the 1960s progressed slowly and was accompanied by the expansion of the tertiary industries and informal sector. Then, the composition and characteristics of the middle classes, including their relatively small population size, distinctness from the lower classes, and internal diversity were analyzed. Finally, based on the data of the middle class-centered organizations formed during the anti-Marcos struggle, their political aspects were discussed, with emphasis placed on the new pattern of political participation which appeared after the Aquino assassination.