Nancy Birdsall has put up a post about the need to research a hitherto undiscovered class of people who may be crucial for development in poor countries, which they call ‘The Catalytic Class’. Key excerpt:
[There has been a] recent round of analyses by development economists on who and where the world’s middle class members are and why they matter too, including for the poor… Now Andy and I are thinking about trying to define and “find” the … the catalytic class. They are not necessarily comfortably middle class – but they want and benefit from clear rules of the game.
I’m afraid that the catalytic class may already be studied under a different name. In fact, this guy might argue that this research might be coming some 144 years after the definitive study of this group. I’ve been talking for a while about how they’re a crucial but neglected part of the development process.
Still, rebranding aside, I’m glad to see interest from such smart and influential people on this topic. Really looking forward to see how it turns out.
(As an aside my brother-in-law, a historian teaching at Cambridge, once pointed out to me that Robert Puttnam’s much touted concept of Social Capital was nothing more than an inversion of Emile Durkheim’s concept of anomie. Still, the rebranding worked – it became the must-have variable in a thousand regressions after the publication of Bowling Alone).