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


  1. Interesting stuff. I read the linked article you mentioned which in turn tweaked my curiosity to look up a few more. But difficult to trust the sources in most internet browsing research. Too many articles with another agenda.
    The thing I'm curious about is that there is a thread that links countries that have struggled out of European colonialism (or any colonialism for that matter). After the colonialists left, there is a simultaneous push for both economic growth and cultural identity. But re-establishing that identity is costly and to a new generation, may often seem superfluous.

    As you observe, and I agree, there seems little cause for optimism - a middle class drifting downwards from unfulfilled economic promise. What is interesting is that you wrote that in August 2008, just as the recession in the industrial world was getting started (and the DZ unemployment was already 30% then!?). I'm sure it is even more acute now.
    You should write an update to this blog sometime.

  2. Dz Chick, it's fair to say that the social class system in Algeria is relatively similar to the one found all developing nations (thirld world countries to be blunt).

    The upper class' attitude towards the nouveaux riches et autres is a widespread phenomenon not exclusive to developing nations, simply exclusive to fools!

    Thank you for the overview of the class system in our motherland.

  3. can you please give a more or less estimation of the middle class currently in Algeria as a whole, not the capital... don't you think that Algeria is witnessing an urban development concerning infra structure? this might put society into progress instead of social apocalypse according to you, no? thanks

  4. Hi Firas, gosh I wrote this in 2008! CRINGE!!!! I see things differently nowadays!

    The infrastructure with a life span of dairy product! After 4 days it starts to go bad or crumble as is the case of many new infrastructures that got Bouteflika back on the throne for a second and third term. You cannot judge a society’s progress solely on the availability of infrastructure, when clearly the services are lacking if non-existent.
    The structures built or planned to be built do not concede to the need of the people, just as an example, the ever rising number of vehicles on the roads of all major Algerian cities or towns is due to the ever available “credit mobilier” and to a seemingly nfinite source of cash due to a non-existent banking system and to high numbers of car manufactures/sellers in Algeria, this results in an average of 2 cars per (middle class and not just that) household, which results in a staggering number of vehicles on the roads at any time of day, which causes traffic havoc and a suffocating lifestyle for the Algerians overall and regardless of their “social class” and it puts off even the little tourists Algeria does get.


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