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Class in the South Caucasus

Roberts, Ken and Pollock, Gary (2011) Class in the South Caucasus. ISSN 1469-8307

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Abstract

This paper identifies classes using evidence from surveys taken in 2009 among nationally representative samples of approximately 2000 households from each of the three South Caucasus countries–Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Information on employment, education and income is used to identify clusters of both individuals and households, in each case a middle class, a working class and a lower class. Using individual classification, the lower classes are the largest classes in each country, which therefore appear to have pyramid-shaped class structures. However, classifying households gives the class structures a diamond shape, with larger working classes than either middle classes or lower classes. The evidence shows that the main differences between classes of households lie in their standards of living, and are driven by differences in income levels. The main differences between classes of individuals are driven primarily by education, which result in differences in attitudes and (to some extent) individual lifestyles. It is argued that in economic and socio-political terms there are as yet just two real classes among actual and potential employees in the South Caucasus–middle classes and lower classes–and that although these classes differ in their standards of living and political dispositions, these are unlikely to become bases for conflict between them.

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