The paper has two main objectives: First, to analyze the vulnerability of the middle sectors in Latin America in face of the neo-liberal policies implemented in the region during recent decades. Second, to discuss possible policies and programs for the middle class that promote the building and strengthening of democratic processes throughout the region.
The central hypothesis of the paper is that an important part of the middle class can be active participants in the process of building democracy and developing inclusive and equitable societies. This will not be a result of market forces. It will require the implementation of policies and programs that promote the participation of the middle class in the public sphere.
In the first chapter we introduce a brief discussion on the concept of the middle class and the changes it has undergone on the global level in the last few decades, especially in the US and Europe. The changes in the Latin American middle class are examined in the second and third chapters. In the fourth chapter we discuss in detail the vulnerability of that Latin American middle class. The fifth chapter confronts the middle class and our current economic and social situation from the perspective of the region. Finally, in the last section we propose policies for enhancing social citizenship and setting a renewed public involvement.