What We Are Reading Today: The Autocratic Middle Class by Bryn Rosenfeld

What We Are Reading Today: The Autocratic Middle Class by Bryn Rosenfeld
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Updated 04 December 2020

What We Are Reading Today: The Autocratic Middle Class by Bryn Rosenfeld

What We Are Reading Today: The Autocratic Middle Class by Bryn Rosenfeld

Conventional wisdom holds that the rising middle classes are a force for democracy. Yet in post-Soviet countries like Russia, where the middle class has grown rapidly, authoritarianism is deepening. Challenging a basic tenet of democratization theory, Bryn Rosenfeld shows how the middle classes can actually be a source of support for autocracy and authoritarian resilience, and reveals why development and economic growth do not necessarily lead to greater democracy.
In pursuit of development, authoritarian states often employ large swaths of the middle class in state administration, the government budget sector, and state enterprises. Drawing on attitudinal surveys, unique data on protest behavior, and extensive fieldwork in the post-Soviet region, Rosenfeld documents how the failure of the middle class to gain economic autonomy from the state stymies support for political change, and how state economic engagement reduces middle-class demands for democracy and weakens prodemocratic coalitions.
 


What We Are Reading Today: Social Chemistry by Marissa King

What We Are Reading Today: Social Chemistry by Marissa King
Updated 17 January 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Social Chemistry by Marissa King

What We Are Reading Today: Social Chemistry by Marissa King

This is a book that has much to teach about interpersonal relationships.

“Beyond its applications to the work place it also explores the social dynamics in the connections we make within our families, with our friends and into our communities,” said a review in goodreads.com. 

“There are valuable insights here, grounded in research and science and brought to life through personal stories,” said the review.

Priya Parker says in a review for The New York Times that Author Marissa King’s work is one of a number of new books that emphasize the importance of social interaction at this moment of social distancing.

“Reading Social Chemistry during a pandemic is an unsettling experience,” added Parker.

King “calls on us to be intentional not just with our individual relationships, but with our networks. We conflate networks with networking.” 

Parker said: “We can’t avoid networks. We are all a part of them and they shape our realities. They are also not inherently good or bad. Schools that design structures forcing students to interact with different groups, through scattered seating assignments, make cliques less ubiquitous.”