Searching for a Different Future: The Rise of a Global Middle Class in Morocco

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"Shana Cohen is making a significant contribution to understandings of how insertion into the world economy feels to those on the global margins and how their search for a new form of identity shapes their relations to religion, the state, and each other. This is not only an important book but one with literary value as well: we come as close as we can to understanding individual struggles and the resulting complications."--Miguel Centeno, Princeton University "Searching for a Different Future is superb. Shana Cohen's work provides an outstanding example for all scholars who take seriously the productive potential of work that is at once theoretical and empirical, objectivist and subjectivist, economically sophisticated and culturally savvy, regionally situated and unabashedly global."--Jonathan Cutler, coeditor of Post-Work: The Wages of Cybernation

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By examining how neo-liberal economic reform policies have affected educated young adults in contemporary Morocco, "Searching for a Different Future" posits a new socio-economic formation: the global middle class. During Morocco's postcolonial period, from the 1950s through the 1970s, development policy and nationalist ideology supported the formation of a middle class based on the pursuit of education, employment, and material security. Neo-liberal reforms adopted by Morocco since the early 1980s have significantly eroded the capacity of the state to nurture the middle class, and unemployment and temporary employment among educated adults has grown. There is no longer an obvious correlation between the best interests of the state and those of the middle-class worker.As Shana Cohen demonstrates, educated young adults in Morocco do not look toward the state for economic security and fulfillment but toward the diffuse, amorphous global market. Cohen delves into the rupture that has occurred between the middle-class individual and the nation in Morocco and elsewhere around the world. Combining institutional economic analysis with cultural theory and ethnographic observation including interviews with seventy young adults in Casablanca and Rabat, she reveals how young, middle-class Moroccans conceive of their material, social, and political conditions. She finds that they are, for the most part, indifferent to the economic changes going on around them and uninterested in the types of civic participation commonly connected with nationalism and national identity.In seeking to answer classic sociological questions about how the evolution of capitalism influences identity, Cohen sheds new light on the measurable social and economic consequences of globalization and on its less tangible effects on individuals' perception of their place in society and prospects in life. Shana Cohen is Senior Research Fellow in Social Policy and Social Care at Sheffield Hallam University in England.

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