Housing middle-classness: Formality and the making of distinction in Luanda

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14 Citations (Scopus)


As one of the primary personal sites of financial investment, expression and public performance, housing has stood at the centre of contemporary studies of class in Africa. This article adds to the existing literature on housing and class by exploring residents' desires for formal housing in post-conflict Luanda, Angola. Luanda's residents increasingly believed that access to formal housing, not necessarily always legally but rather aesthetically defined, was a primary means of affirming middle-class status. By highlighting the links between class, urban formality and the state, the article argues that formal housing became a means for both the state and Luandans to produce middle-classness. Existing beliefs about comportment and urban aesthetics, which anchored subjective understandings of class in the house, intersected with a political economy in which the state played a central role in enabling access to new residences. As such, formality has become a key means through which middle-classness is transforming urban landscapes, opening up discussions about aesthetic belonging, financial stability and the role of the state in the making of Africa's middle classes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509-528
Number of pages20
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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