What the World’s Middle Classes Are Really Protesting

Posted by Charles Gunning

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Still-smoldering protests from Egypt to Brazil have set off a race among scholars and journalists to identify the roots of this summer of discontent in the emerging world. Each major theory starts at the bottom, with the protesters on the street, and notes a common thread: young, Twitter-savvy members of a rising middle class. In this telling, the protests represent the perils of success, as growing wealth creates a class of people who have the time and financial wherewithal to demand from their leaders even more prosperity, and political freedom as well.

This is a plausible story, often well told. Yet it is a bit too familiar to be fully persuasive.

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