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VAD Congress 2014: June 11th – June 14th in Bayreuth Panel: Afrikanische Kapitalismen
ABSTRACT
Economic and Cultural Aspects of Local Capitalisms: Milieus, Practices and Life Styles in the
Middle-Classes of Nairobi and Mombasa
Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies / Development Sociology, University of Bayreuth This paper wants to test the notion of capitalism on local phenomena in the two biggest Kenyan cities. Classical authors like Marx or Weber developed their theories in the European context. They accepted at least implicit specific European structures like strong nation states as complementary elements of capitalist development which leads to homogenization processes on the territory of a state.This form of state and other elements have not been given in the African context and local surroundings can differ strongly. Thus the paper will combine the analysis of social milieus with urban sociology, especially with the heuristic method of the „distinctiveness of cities“ (Berking 2012/ Löw 2012) to examine the situation in the two cities of Nairobi and Mombasa. Furthermore even ideas from the New Economic Sociology will be integrated which analyzes the cultural „embeddedness“ The specific economic and social contexts of Nairobi and Mombasa will be combined with the consideration of regional and global influences as a starting point for the analysis of milieu borders, specific practices, strategies, orientations and lifestyles in both cities. Certain forms of action or strategies like a higher orientation towards profit making, stronger or weaker forms of planning the future are – so the hypothesis – connected with different local forms of capitalist development. Results from own field work suggest that it´s not just the economic fields and the milieus which differ in both cities. In a very overexaggerated view one might assume there is something like a different „spirit of capitalism“ in the sense of Max Weber in both cities. In Nairobi many milieus seem to have a strong orientation towards profit making, social mobility and strategic planning. In contrast in Mombasa many milieus -especially those which had been living there for generations – seem to act more opportunity bound, show less entrepreneurial interests and show even less ambitions for social rise. Nairobi is the most important economic and political center for East Africa, what is even reflected by the economic practices and the milieus in the middle-classes. Besides groups which are strongly orientated towards social rise and connected saving activities there is even an urban milieu of Young Professionals (Spronk 2012) which is more focussed on consume like Yuppie-/Hipster milieus in other cities – which does not exist in Mombasa. Mombasa is an old port city which still has strong connections to the Middle East and to Asia which have a huge influence on many inhabitants of the city. Furthermore Mombasa is not just Kenya´s only relevant access point to the sea but it has become over the last decades one of the most important places worldwide for (sex) tourism. Its social milieus mirror the contradictive division of the city. According to locals there are groups which have been established for generations who live mainly in the city center and work either in specific trader businesses or show rather low orientation towards social rise. At the same time groups from upcountry Kenya including Nairobi often move to Mombasa to work at the harbour or in tourism. Many local inhabitants feel pushed aside by better qualified migrants. Other locals define their identity against the immoral life at the beaches on the shore of Mombasa. The forementioned aspects might illustrate the partially contradictory „spirit“ of Mombasa very well which differs much from Nairobi´s Florian.Stoll@uni-bayreuth.de

Source: http://www.vad-ev.de/fileadmin/user_upload/Abstracts/Abstract_VAD_Stoll.pdf

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