What effects does the middle class have on a society and its political structure? Can they unhinge social norms and bring upon social reform? Are there other classes that contend with the middle class? Does this have broader implications? Questions that may remain unanswered, yet observing current events, one may get a glimmer of the answer.
Hong Kong can be our first example. Currently in this region there are protests, and behaviors that the Chinese government does not approve. This may be accounted to the growth of the middle class, which started around the 1990s. As the country developed its middle class, there were more dissidents from the art community and the general public. At least comparable to Mao Zedong's rule, which lead to the Cultural Revolution. Moreover, another example is when the middle class in the United States was strong (~1950-1980). Between these times there was the Civil Rights Movement, the Women's Rights Movement, and the LGBT Rights Movement.
Yet, when the middle class started to dissipate in the 1980s in the United States, it gave rise to reactionary movements (the reawakening of Christians, drug wars, and censorship of media). Even now the movements in the United States are divided in their own movements between reactionary and legitimate. The reactionary segments of a movement are usually occupied by the lower class. The lower class tends to have less education and a lot of discontent, which can be antagonized by groups that relates to their discontent. Any social class can create these groups, but the social classes that are less financially stable need more collective effort. Then the legitimate pieces of a movement tend to be the middle or upper class, for they tend to need less collective effort to finance their movements, have more education, and have a better understanding of the source of their discontent.
Thus, it seems that wherever there is a sizable middle class, one can assume there may be some sort of change about to occur. So far, it seems the next emergence of a sizable middle class is going to be India. One can only imagine what the reforms that will be brought to the country. The current discussions are on women rights, sanitary conditions, caste system, male orientated society, and the environment. Which one may impact the fabric of society? It is hard to estimate at this point, but it is something to monitor.
Yet, this is a blog post based on current and historical events. There needs to be more research to establish a strong correlation. This piece offers a small glimpse at a possible answer to the questions above.