Pursuing progress: urban-urban migration and meanings of being middle class in Ethiopia

Breines, Markus Roos (2017) Pursuing progress: urban-urban migration and meanings of being middle class in Ethiopia. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

[img] PDF - Published Version
Download (2MB)


Over the past two decades, major political, economic and social shifts have reshaped
hierarchical relations in Ethiopia. The country has seen new dynamics of ethnic power
relations and a rapid expansion of higher education, while the government’s
authoritarian developmental discourse has permeated people’s lives and influenced their
everyday perspectives on modernity and progress. Taking these conditions as its starting
point, this thesis examines how people have responded to social change as individuals
and in connection to relationships with others. It interrogates how these broader patterns
of social relations have transformed through urban to urban migration – an important
form of migration in Ethiopia, yet one that is largely unexamined within studies of
Ethiopian migration. To understand the sociocultural dimensions of these processes, this
thesis analyses the formations of hierarchical relations in terms of class, drawing
strongly on Bourdieu’s (1984, 1986) class theory and elaboration of cultural, material,
social and symbolic capital. Through an emphasis on the contextual values of capital in
Ethiopia, this thesis focuses on how migration to modern places creates the
opportunities for new interactions with people of diverse backgrounds. In doing so, the
thesis analyses how urban to urban migration shapes the possession and use of various
forms of capital. The study employs higher education, ethnicity and progress as lenses
to identify how everyday social processes surrounding urban to urban migration
produce social distinctions. The ethnographic research that led to this analysis drew out
the intersections and tensions between physical movement and social mobilities by
relying on a multi-sited approach, with research carried out in Adigrat and Addis
Ababa. Throughout, the thesis explores its central aim, which is to interrogate the role
of urban to urban migration in generating a group with distinct cultural practices and
shared characteristics that can be described as being middle class in contemporary

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Anthropology
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DT History of Africa > DT0365 Eastern Africa > DT0371 Ethiopia (Abyssinia)
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races > HT0101 Urban groups. The city. Urban sociology
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 18 Sep 2017 12:03
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2021 08:58
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/69898

View download statistics for this item

📧 Request an update