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      On the So-Called “Middle-Class Citizens” as the Power of Social Change



            This article, looking at the middle-class citizens of today who have grown into the majority of the population in developed countries and who are gradually becoming the majority in emerging countries too, argues that none other than such citizens might retain the power of social change in this phase of capitalism. This article, by tracing the different aspects of citizens' features along with capitalist development, reveals the complicated characteristics of contemporary middle-class citizens who though usually supporting of the capitalist system, sometimes turn into influential opponents of the system where they feel themselves betrayed or abandoned by it. This article insists on the distinct meaning of the Worldwide Comprehensive Consumption Reduction Movement, which is effective not only for preventing the destruction of nature, culture and human health but also for the middle-class citizens to develop into constructive reformists, not simply opponents, of the very same capitalist society.


            Author and article information

            World Review of Political Economy
            Pluto Journals
            Spring 2013
            : 4
            : 1
            : 25-37
            Copyright 2013 World Association for Political Economy

            All content is freely available without charge to users or their institutions. Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles in this journal without asking prior permission of the publisher or the author. Articles published in the journal are distributed under a http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.


            Political economics
            world-wide movement,middle-class citizens,social change,consumption reduction strategy,ordinary citizens' human development


            1. Investigating the cases in the developed capitalist countries, we find that the materially wealthy lives of ordinary people as well as the activities of huge industrial and financial corporations let the developed countries become the actual rulers or the actual subordinate rulers of human-kind on the earth today. As for the United States, not only the political leaders, business leaders and influential mass media, but also the “middle-class citizens” in this country, too, are now actually dominating (or at least supporters of) the contemporary world economic and political systems and culture. The number of American middle-class citizens is only less than 3 percent of the world's population, they have been enjoying high and increasing levels of material well-being, with the cooperation of subordinate partners such as Western European and Nipponese (Japanese) middle-class citizens (and moreover including the relatively wealthy people in Asia's newly emerging countries), and they also are increasingly wasting natural resources, disrupting the natural environment and exacerbating poverty among people in underdeveloped countries. They are gaining mountainous benefits from all over the world in a double sense: getting products and resources on the one hand, and getting money as the foreign investment flows into the US (especially US Treasury Bonds), etc. on the other. This situation might be exceedingly fortunate for them. Therefore they tend to be conservative, and furthermore they tend to be chauvinistic in protecting such a fortunate situation, when their individual and/or national identities are attacked by unexpected threats.

            2. The principal origin of contemporary depression is, no doubt, a result of an over-inclination to expanding reproduction since the end of WWII. After Keynesian policy was taken to be a President's Economics in the United States, mass consumption turned into a virtue instead of a vice. And according to this point of economic view, mass production, mass sales, mass consumption, and mass dumping in the last few decades have been regarded as normal activities for contemporary economic life. Moreover under this expansionist point of view, the pursuance for more money and/ or more profit came to be normal activities for contemporary economic life, too. Furthermore, it became normal for every economic problem to be solved by expansion of the economic pie.

            3. About my original proposal, see Setooka Hiroshi (2009) and (2008).

            4. As for this issue, see Juliet B. Schor (1992) and (1998), and additionally refer to Jill Andresky Fraser (2001).

            5. The pursuance of unsuitably high levels of living standards as well as unsuitably high levels of productive capacity is not only harmful to the preservation of nature but problematic to keeping normal national identity. For example, Nipponese (Japanese) people as well as business enterprises rely too much upon imports not only to continue business activities but also to sustain everyday high standards of living of the people, and upon exports, too, to get money to buy everything from raw materials for the industry to daily consumption goods for the people. Just exactly this situation forces Nippon (Japan) not to be able to refuse the intolerable US requests. For a more complete discussion, see Setooka Hiroshi (2004), (2005c), and (2007b).


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