Tokenization and lifestyle of the new global middle classes
Before AI burst onto the public agenda, the word to be a candidate for “word of the year” was tokenization . He hasn't lost the battle yet. Regardless of such recognition, the strength it has acquired among the middle classes of the entire planet cannot be set aside. They have opened themselves to a tokenized world , in which all their capital, everything that can be considered an asset, will end up configured as a token. And the sum of the tokens, the world you own.
In economically developed Western countries, the middle classes have been defined both by their occupations, within the productive structure, and, above all, by their access to different properties. Properties such as housing or consumer durables, initially; then passing - Thatcherism through - to financial assets.
An access to the property that, in turn, projects a lifestyle. In fact, when the originally working classes accessed this type of property, analysts spoke of their gentrification or opulent workers ( The affluent worke r , by John Goldthorpe and company). With the first qualifier, the radical moderation of its supposed vindictive nature is highlighted; but, also, its assimilation to the intermediate positions in the social structure The moderate positions. With the second, its integration into the consumer society.
The middle classes were no longer just integrated. They were assumed to be the center of the consumer society and their attraction, the possibility of integrating the working classes. Well, having, rather than spending, is what primarily defines the Western middle classes. Above all, if they are crossed by the Protestant ethic. Having was the symbol of success for the middle classes and, later, the working classes, who wanted their assimilation as the middle classes. Except for the elites-elites, everyone wanted to be middle class. Everyone wanted to have it.
“Having” was the socially differentiating criterion. In this way, social analysts began to observe the world according to their possessions, since everything became a possession. All inequality on the planet was reduced by the economist Branko Milanovic to those who have and those who have not. This is how he titled his most successful work. But before, in the national-domestic spheres, differences due to property were already established.
One of the significant concepts that served for the transition was capital. In this way, training and studies became training capital. The ability to consume cultural products, in cultural capital. Friendships, in social capital. Having a desirable body, in erotic capital. Making almost everything a capital, almost to infinity. It was no longer companies that had capital and different types of capital. They were the individuals, the citizens.
The disposition of the different capitals is what places us in the social structure. The middle classes, those who had a relatively balanced disposition of capital. The middle classes were owners of: housing, university degrees, cars acquired first hand, cultural taste, friends who at least had those they had and financial products. For this reason, when Mike Savage and his colleagues, with the help of the BBC and now three decades into the 21st century, carry out one of the most interesting recent studies on the British social structure, they do so by asking about the different capitals .
With digitalization, most of these capitals seemed to melt away. As Zigmunt Bauman would say, they tend to become liquid. With this, the entire society becomes liquid. Jobs become precariously liquid. This has consequences on capital. The home must be liquid, to be able to sell/liquidate it when you have to change jobs or workplace. Training titles must be modularly liquidable, to be transformed into new titles . The furniture is made as liquid as Ikea wants to propose to us. Even social capital, with social networks involved, seems to require being more liquid. Even identity becomes liquid.
The liquidity of the context also makes the middle classes feel liquid. To believe that nothing you own has permanence. But, above all, they find it difficult to digest the first massive digitalization, which is largely the source of widespread precariousness. Practices such as acquiring properties online encounter resistance in almost direct correlation with the price of the good purchased. But, little by little, they are making their way, until they acquire goods such as cars.
It is in such a context that blockchain and tokenization find their springboard. On the one hand, property indelibly recorded in the digital world. What seemed evanescent can now be fixed. Even digital identity can be established through an avatar constituted as an NFT. On the other hand, almost full incorporation of liquidity. Every tokenized asset has a foot and a half in a market. In the market.
Finally, and here, reflecting the traditional logic of the middle classes, it allows access to assets and goods whose access door was very expensive or the good itself was very expensive. This ranges from business and entrepreneurship projects, one of the defining features of the new middle classes, to access to works of art or jewelry, acquiring a part of them . These are assets that can be fragmented.
the entire world will be fragmented into tokens registered in a blockchain . All of our capital - our property, our property of the world - will be tokenized . Including the capital of our identity. The middle class will be defined by the structure of tokens it has. But surely it is already a new global middle class. The new global class enrolled in the blockchain .
Madrid. Javier Callejo Gallego