Date of Submission



Economic reform and structural adjustment in India has undermined state institutions through which the middle classes have historically reproduced their advantage. Education has been profoundly affected by increasing privatisation and a reduction in government subsidies, which in turn has implications for its accessibility, quality and utility. Given that education has historically been central to the processes of class formation for the lower middle classes, my primary concern is to analyse the capacity of this social group to reproduce their advantage through education in the neoliberal era. While I argue throughout that the Indian middle classes are a socially and culturally fragmented group, the major finding of this thesis is that these youth are experiencing increased hardship, heightened anxiety, and are confronting the reality of downward mobility. By demonstrating the contemporary challenges that youth living outside major metropolitan areas face, this thesis contributes to debates about the Indian middle classes as well as debates about youth and education in the Global South. Given the sheer enormity of the youthful population in India, theorising their trajectories is necessary for our understandings of Indian development more broadly.


School of Arts and Sciences

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


135 pages

Degree Name

Master of Philosophy (MPhil)


Faculty of Arts and Sciences