Academic journal article Women's Studies Quarterly

The Discreet Transient

Academic journal article Women's Studies Quarterly

The Discreet Transient

Article excerpt

The Formerly Middle Class1 (FMC) nomenclature is used to describe a subset of the population once operating within a middle-class lifestyle, driven from that economic milieu during the financial and housing foreclosure crisis beginning in the late 2000s. Often living in cars or in temporary housing, this subset does not identify with the traditional definition of "homeless," and strives to recreate their domestic landscape within the suburban places they are familiar with, or aspire to belong to. The FMC struggle to retain the appearances of their social status, counting on the temporariness of this difficult economic conjuncture.

The FMC's way of inhabiting the middle class suburban environment is rooted in an expertise that allows for inconspicuousness. They avoid shelters and other amenities that would identify them as homeless and spend already thinly spread resources on avoiding detection and blending in within the middle-class milieu. The FMC constantly roam and evaluate the fitness of a space or a schedule for use. They maximize the possibility of spaces that are taken for granted and are considered unexceptional and uncomplex.

The FMC's understanding of the city is situational, and takes full advantage of slack spaces that may go unnoticed, at least for a while. They demonstrate a paradigm shift in defining the boundaries of shared communal and public spaces. No longer limited to outdoor spaces and public amenities, the expanded definition of communal space now includes zones of operational slack in suburban infrastructure, online communities, and shared real-time information. The FMC are constantly on the move to find ideal locations that allow them to avoid identification. Hospital parking lots afford relatively safe rest, with the FMC slipping in under the pretense that they are waiting on a sick family member inside. Streets with no sidewalks, no overlooking windows, or adjacent woods reduce foot traffic and provide opportunities to enter and exit the car without detection. This brings up the issue of schedule - knowing when to be where and how long one can reside in a slack space, undisturbed and undetected. College campuses and facilities may be accessed if the individual has a good understanding of how a college campus is staffed and maintained - or is the kind of person that would have information about how to use these spaces. …

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