Sociologists have shown that a middle class represses the likelihood of a citizen-led political revolution. When enough people make enough money to have something to lose, they are unlikely to try to upend the system. A middle class, then, ensures that a good proportion of citizens are comfortable and that goes a long way towards encouraging them to relax and enjoy the status quo. The ability to consume, that is, correlates with a complacent citizenry.
Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.