The Suburb Reader  book cover
2nd Edition

The Suburb Reader

ISBN 9781138818583
Published May 24, 2016 by Routledge
682 Pages

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Book Description

Since the 1920s, the United States has seen a dramatic reversal in living patterns, with a majority of Americans now residing in suburbs. This mass emigration from cities is one of the most fundamental social and geographical transformations in recent US history. Suburbanization has not only produced a distinct physical environment—it has become a major defining force in the construction of twentieth-century American culture.

Employing over 200 primary sources, illustrations, and critical essays, The Suburb Reader documents the rise of North American suburbanization from the 1700s through the present day. Through thematically organized chapters it explores multiple facets of suburbia’s creation and addresses its indelible impact on the shaping of gender and family ideologies, politics, race relations, technology, design, and public policy. Becky Nicolaides’ and Andrew Wiese’s concise commentaries introduce the selections and contextualize the major themes of each chapter. Distinctive in its integration of multiple perspectives on the evolution of the suburban landscape, The Suburb Reader pays particular attention to the long, complex experiences of African Americans, immigrants, and working people in suburbia. Encompassing an impressive breadth of chronology and themes, The Suburb Reader is a landmark collection of the best works on the rise of this modern social phenomenon.


New to the edition

  • The second edition incorporates important new research that explores the complex history and cultures of the American suburbs
  • More coverage of transnational cases and the influence of American suburbia internationally
  • More coverage of the post-financial crisis and housing crisis in the U. S.,including rising suburban inequality
  • The positive sides of suburban living are further emphasized, balancing the critical approaches of the text, including, "best practices" in policy.
  • Deeper coverage of ethnically diverse suburbs, including politics and lifeways in Asian American and Latino suburbs
  • Expanded coverage of recent exclusionary tactics, from cultural politics to violence in Ferguson
  • New material on popular culture representations, in film, television, music, and children’s literature
  • New coverage of the future of suburbs, including further economic, political, and social transformations and recent initiatives in sustainability and regional equity

Table of Contents

Part I: The Emergence of Suburbia 1750-1940

Chapter 1. The Transnational Origins of the Elite Suburb
Chapter 2. Family and Gender in the Making of Suburbia
Chapter 3. Technology and Decentralization
Chapter 4. Economic and Class Diversity on the Early Suburban Fringe
Chapter 5. The Politics of Early Suburbia
Chapter 6. Imagining Suburbia: Visions and Plans from the Turn of the Century
Chapter 7. The Other Suburbanites: class, racial, & ethnic diversity in early suburbia
Chapter 8. The Tools of Exclusion: From Local Initiatives to Federal Policy

Part II: Postwar Suburbia 1940-1970

Chapter 9. Postwar America: Suburban Apotheosis
Chapter 10. Culture Wars: Polarized Constructions of Suburban Life

Chapter 11.Postwar Suburbs and the Construction of Race
Chapter 12. The City-Suburb Divide

Part III: Recent Suburbia, 1970 to the Present

Chapter 13. The Political Culture of Suburbia
Chapter 14. Suburban Transformations Since 1970

Chapter 15. Economic and Class Transformations
Chapter 16. Our Town: Enduring Exclusion in Recent Suburbia

Chapter 17. The Future of Suburbia

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Becky M. Nicolaides is an Affiliated Research Scholar at the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West, a Research Affiliate at the UCLA Center for the Study of Women, and the author of My Blue Heaven: Life and Politics in the Working Class Suburbs of Los Angeles, 1920-1965.

Andrew Wiese is Professor of History at San Diego State University and the author of Places of Their Own: African American Suburbanization in the Twentieth Century.


'The editors deftly compile perspectives from a variety of sources, with essays on good housekeeping from an experienced suburbanite to young women new to the 'burbs; theoretical expositions on topics like concentric zone theory and political theories on the links between suburbs and the new American right, which all rub togethers contradicting and contrasting each other and providing a balanced view of the unbalanced complexity of this all-encompassing obsession'- Andrew kelham is an anthropological visioneer working at URBED