Monday, October 22, 2007

Of Miracles and Middle Forces: The Social Construction of Middle-Class Consciousness in the Philippines, 1970s-2000 (A Roundtable Discussion)

PhD Candidate, Brown University, USA and
Visiting Research Fellow, Third World Studies Center

25 October 2007
10:00 a.m.-12:00 noon
Third World Studies Center
Lower Ground Floor Palma Hall
University of the Philippines-Diliman

This talk presents an alternative perspective on middle-class formation in the Philippines, focusing on the social construction of public narratives that relate the history and destiny of the "middle class" to democracy. It will elaborate how and why Filipino scholars, pundits, and ordinary citizens alike understood the major shifts in democratic governance in the past thirty years -- Martial Law, EDSA I, and EDSA II -- as being the products of "the middle class"; and how the cumulative processes of discursive adaptation, social distinction, and political struggle resulted and reinforced a pervasive concept of middle-classness built on interrelated notions of "values", a dialectical tension with consumer culture, and a vision of the class as a maker of modernity. To illustrate this, the talk will present an analysis of explicit references to the "middle class" in the print and digital media, in political statements, and in social science discourse.

Celso M. Villegas is a PhD candidate from the Department of Sociology, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA and Visiting Research Fellow at the Third World Studies Center. He is conducting fieldwork for a comparative study of middle-class formation in the Philippines, Ecuador, and Venezuela. He is the co-author (with James Mahoney) of "Historical Enquiry in Comparative Politics," recently published in the Oxford Handbook of Comparative Politics (Oxford University Press).