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The evolving identity of Brazil's middle class

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The traditional middle class sometimes looks down at what is now the new middle class, and some in the traditional middle class would consider themselves "culturally superior" to the new middle class: more American, tech-savvy, and literate than a more Brazilian pop-culture, newer to technology, and less well-read (or with little access to books). A traditional middle-class teenager, for example, might look down on a new middle-class teenager for liking sertanejo (Brazilian country music), rather than say, White Stripes, and Brazilians who have been on Facebook for years complain about the "Orkutization" of Facebook by the new middle class. It's the same dynamic you might find between urban yuppies in the US and lower-income working-class Americans living in rural areas, but more acute and on a deeper level, since the two groups co-exist and interact.

A key example of the divide between the traditional and new middle classes is clear in this recent article from Época Magazine, where a São Paulo marketing consultant claims to debunk the "myths and truths" of the new middle class. The traditional middle class can sometimes show disdain for Northeasterners, from the poorest region of Brazil. This type of attitude is implied – he claims the Northeast is where the "real" C Class lives, and goes on to explain that they have different consumption (and cultural) habits than the middle class in other parts of the country. But he also makes some good points about why it's important to understand the C class from a realistic perspective: "These guys were living in poverty until recently. They were going hungry, and now they have a plasma TV in the living room." And he also asserts that because of this diverse middle class, Brazil "is in search of a new identity."

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