“My dreams are to have a house that has an attic… and a bedroom place and a kitchen with a living room… I would like for us to have a peaceful life… and plenty… of money… to survive… and we don’t get homeless ever again.”
The sociologist Herbert Gans once wrote a book called “The Levittowners,” where he described middle America a great deal in terms of where they live. Levittown is pretty much the classic stereotype of the American suburb; a single family in a house surrounded by flower-boxes, a lawn out front, porches, and white picket fences. To Gans, the American middle class stands in stark contrast compared to their working-class origins; Gans challenged the convention of an apathetic middle class stooped in anomie. Many of the beliefs and wisdoms of the American middle class not only come from family and friends, but also from media, work, and other social circles. Today, Gans’ model of Levittown is what comes to mind when we say “middle class.”
Not anymore, it isn’t: that was 1967, and here we are in 2009. Erik Eckholm of the New York Times ran a story about how families in Orange County, California have been seriously affected by the global economic crisis. Quite a number of middle-class Americans, once represented by houses surrounded by white picket fences, are now living in motel rooms. Foreclosures, debts, and hard times have caught up with the American middle class.
I’m not an American; if you view things from the outside, it seems that the life, times, and chronicles of the American noveau poor is nothing compared to homelessness here in the Philippines. It’s not that they don’t have a problem compared to street-dwellers here, but it makes me kind of think a bit about the middle class.