Revolution of the Middle Classes?

Much of social theory has tended in the past to paint revolutions against rulers as uprisings of oppressed classes albeit often with leaders from more privileged backgrounds. However, the spread of education to large populations, when combined with new and widely accessible information technology, seems to be democratizing revolutionary capacity. The middle classes, especially if they feel they are not being treated fairly, or are not benefitting from the systems which they have tacitly or financially supported, can mobilize quickly and effectively.

From our analysis of the Gallup World Poll, and using the metrics provided by the new “science” of well-being, we can see that the cohorts most likely to be participating in the Arab Spring protests had average income, education, and life satisfaction levels, but had very pessimistic assessments of their future well-being. In Brazil, stress has been increasing in recent years for all respondents, but the most for those in the middle income quintiles and for those in the 25-45 age range. We also find that those with college education are much less likely to believe that hard work gets you ahead. Thailand and Ukraine exhibit the same pattern consistently: the most educated are less likely to believe in success through hard work, and stress levels are the highest in the middle income and middle age cohorts.

http://www.brookings.edu/TheDecade of Public Protest and Frustration with Lack of Social Mobility, Graham, Chattopadhyay

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