Hadas Weiss

Junior Fellow
Project Title: 
We Have Never Been Middle Class
Project Abstract: 

In my book project, I aim to provide an anthropological account of the emergence and changing structure of the middle class. I locate the middle class in process that implicates workers with property-ownership; particularly property in the form of value-storing assets such as educational and professional credentials, homes, insurance policies, tenured work-contracts, insurance and pension accounts. I conceive of middle-classness as a way of encouraging workers to invest a portion of their incomes for the sake of their social mobility and security. The notion that their sacrifices in the present will pay off in the future is made plausible by the adequacy of the assets they invest their savings in to store value for them. Financialization challenges this plausibility because it sets in motion the capitalization of value-storing assets, which exposes their value to the volatilities of global finance. I argue that in so doing, it lays bare the ideological role of the middle class in enlisting households as active investors in a process of accumulation that harms them as workers.

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