Tuesday 19 August 2008

Algeria's Social class system...

Algeria’s social class system, as it evolved from the Boumerdiene’s Socialist society going on capitalist.
Our society is defined by money and material possessions rather than blood and nobility, we have no monarchy and therefore no “blue blood” or noble blood lines to define our upper class, so we judge it based on wealth and ownership., as is the case of most modern societies.

Our Upper class consists of: politicians and military officials (Generals et al), followed by people with money, what we call old money and Business men, and then come the new money (nouveaux riches) and they usually don’t have the savoir-faire or savoir-vivre so they never actually reach the upper class level due to their lack of education and general good manners! And because in Algeria the upper class is a closed circle, the latter group will find it difficult to integrate into the upper class as noted by some sociologists, it is almost impossible to get into the upper class. They (upper-class) keep their activities (marriage, education and peer groups) as a closed system. This creates further resentment from the aspiring upper class members and nouveaux-riches or equally from the middle class.

Now the Middle class and the upper middle class, consist mainly of members of society who earn their money through relatively high level paid work, or what we call "CHAHAR" such as teachers and doctors, ownership or run small businesses that bring in a consistent income and will be enough to get the children through university, have a nice car and afford a nice house or sometimes not. A key criteria for the middle class is Education, college degrees in some cases could be the only thing distinguishing the middle class from the working class.

The new phenomenon we are seeing is that the Algerian middle class is being wiped out. You cannot exist in the middle class anymore in Algeria because you wouldnt be able to sustain the level of average income or average living any longer, this is due to the escalating richness of the upper class. In fact the upper class is so much richer nowadays that everyone else is poor in comparison.

The middle class is being abolished. Money laundering and the urban move of land workers’ third generations to the city (A-Zahf Erifi), Property and land prices have risen by at least 100% in the last few years and especially since the end of the civil unrest. So we have less people to work the lands and agriculture and more people buying properties in the cities trying to get into the urban middle to upper classes. No wonder we have problems. Even Karl Marx couldn’t analyse our society.

Working class consists of everybody else, who doesn’t belong in the two above groups! People holding blue collar jobs and living in certain popular districts such as Bab el Oued, Belcour (Hamma), Rouisseau, bech jarah...etc if we are talking of Algiers the capital. In fact what I can see is that there is an almost perfectly positive correlation between wealth and poverty in Algeria, the more people get rich at the top, the more people will become poor at the bottom, we are heading for social apocalypse. It’s inevitable.

So there you have it: a society like any other, with a social class system, that basically is based on the “la loi du plus fort” and who has money has the power. Our society functions on the apr├Ęs moi le deluge concept which means, after me – the deluge…I shall do and take what I can as long as I can, for the repercussions would only go downwards – if you get my drift.

Interesting related link: http://countrystudies.us/algeria/56.htm

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