Presented on "The Political Significance of the Middle Class in Singapore", 18 September 2020

Updated: Dec 24, 2020

At the 2020 Global City Round Table, organized by the Academy of Hong Kong Studies on 18 September 2020 (full video available here), Kenneth Paul Tan elaborated on how:

"The Singapore state’s developmental agenda successfully raised the living standards of the majority of Singaporeans to create a middle class in the 1980s. This middle class, a stabilizing force, seemed resistant to predictions about democratization. When segments of this demographic became politicized, they were dealt with through draconian state actions. The deep embrace of neoliberal globalization from the early 1990s introduced more economically, socially, and culturally disruptive forces into what was now one of the most open global cities in the world. The thus far passive and infantilized middle class needed to be mobilized for national identity and patriotism. By the 2000s, this middle class was viewed even more as inadequate for Singapore’s economic ambitions. Liberal immigration policy creates threatening competition for the middle-class workforce, exacerbated by the disruptions of the fourth industrial revolution and the COVID-19 pandemic."


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