Suppose you want to enjoy a lifestyle "of the medium":

You live with your partner in your house, you have got two kids, a dog, a cat, in a suburban area, have a got a middle-class job with good (but not exorbitant) income, you tend your own garden, you vote center, your life is neither stressful or exciting (like yuppies or hippies), nor is it rural and devoid of culture (like hillbillys). Your life is peaceful with small joys.

What is a good term for that in English? My inspiration for that question is the German term "Spießer", or the similar idea of "Biedermeier". In German, this concept has connotations both positive (balanced, comfortable, agreeable) and negative (narrow-minded, phony, stuffy), and provokes highly ambiguous feelings.

I do not even know whether or where comparable concepts like that exist in the Anglo-sphere. The stereotypical British lifestyle might be closest to it, and for North America, I don't know.

Q: How can this concept be made intellegible in English, including the highly mixed feelings about it?

  • The general concept here (the US), including the tension between "the American dream" and "the sterility of middle class conformity", is encapsulated in the word "suburbia", or, more poetically (and satirically) "Little Boxes" (ticky-tacky), though that's lost currency in recent years.
    – Dan Bron
    Aug 13, 2014 at 17:19
  • Ed Koch, one of the most famous and beloved mayors of New York City once quipped: "Have you ever lived in the suburbs? It's sterile. It's nothing. It's wasting your life." . And, to top it off, there's a book literally entitled "Bourgeois Utopias: The Rise and Fall of Suburbia"
    – Dan Bron
    Aug 13, 2014 at 17:24
  • 'bourgeois' is the closest English word. But that's mostly ever only used negatively.
    – Mitch
    Aug 13, 2014 at 17:34
  • Thank you for the interesting comment. Good to learn that term "suburbia".
    – shuhalo
    Aug 13, 2014 at 22:13

1 Answer 1


In general terms, probably The middle class is a good , sort of neutral way to refer to the social class and the context you describe.

  • is a class of people in the middle of a societal hierarchy. In Weberian socio-economic terms, the middle class is the broad group of people in contemporary society who fall socio-economically between the working class and upper class. The common measures of what constitutes middle class vary significantly among cultures.

  • Within capitalism, "middle class" initially referred to the bourgeoisie and the petite bourgeoisie. However, with the impoverisation and proletarianisation of much of the petit bourgeois world, and the growth of finance capitalism, "middle class" came to refer to the combination of the labour aristocracy, the professionals, and the white collar workers.


  • I believe that roughly 90% of the American population, when surveyed, claim to be members of the 'middle class'. But the major problem with the term 'middle class' is that it is defined quite differently by sociologists in America compared to Europe, reflecting different underlying societies and values. In Britain especially, 'middle class' has a resonance which places emphasis on cultural and educational attributes as much as on income and wealth factors.
    – WS2
    Aug 13, 2014 at 22:06

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.