1st Edition

Home Ownership in America A Socio-Cultural History of Housing in the United States

By Lawrence Samuel Copyright 2024
    184 Pages
    by Routledge

    184 Pages
    by Routledge

    A wide-ranging cultural history centered around the concepts of real estate, the family home, and the American dream, and how they evolved over the years, Home Ownership in America: A Socio-Cultural History of Housing in the United States traces narratives around homeownership from the 1920s to today.

    As a product of the emergence of a large middle class during the Roaring Twenties, the modern concept of homeownership continued through the shaky Great Depression years, holding pattern of World War II, and glory days of the postwar era, when home ownership became a reality for much of the White middle class. While the late 1960s and 1970s were difficult years for home ownership as the postwar economic engine ran out of steam, a renaissance took place in the 1980s and 1990s due to tens of millions of baby boomers wanting to nest. Although there have been a few bumps in the road over the last couple of decades, home ownership, or at least the pursuit of it, is once again booming, making the subject as relevant as ever.

    With the single-family home central to the American idea and experience, this book touches on a host of issues related to our social divisions of race, gender, and class. Home Ownership in America is a truly interdisciplinary study, crossing over into a wide variety of subjects including sociology, family, urban history/planning, suburban studies, the built environment, public policy, business, finance, economics, politics, architecture, design, technology, and popular and consumer culture.


    1. Own Your Own Home (1920-1929)
    2. A Desirable Social Goal (1930-1939)
    3. A New Order (1940-1949)
    4. The World’s Best Buy (1950-1959)
    5. The Threshold of the Good Life (1960-1969)
    6. America’s Biggest Business (1970-1979)
    7. A Fading Fantasy (1980-1989)
    8. Opening Doors (1990-1999)
    9. The Ownership Society (2000-2009)
    10. A House Divided (2010-)



    Lawrence R. Samuel a Miami-based author and independent scholar. He holds a PhD in American Studies from the University of Minnesota and is the author of many books including Diversity in the United States: A Cultural History of the Past Century (Routledge, 2023), Age Friendly: Ending Ageism in America (Routledge, 2022), and The American Middle Class: A Cultural History (Routledge, 2014).

    "A fascinating text that covers 100 years of housing ownership in the United States through wars, depressions, recessions, and times of prosperity. Home ownership as an integral part of the American dream is explained and explored from different angels that most of us often overlook. An interesting read for all.”

    Eli Beracha, Director of the Tibor and Sheila Hollo School of Real Estate at Florida International University

    "Home Ownership in America takes a deep dive into one of the most compelling aspects of the American Dream: the ownership of one's own home. Larry Samuel provides a lively, insightful and innovative interdisciplinary examination of the hopes, experiences, and limitations of American home ownership over the last century."

    Elaine Tyler May, Regents Professor of American Studies and History at the University of Minnesota