Suburban stereotypes

Authored by: Richard Harris

The Routledge Companion to the Suburbs

Print publication date:  August  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138290235
eBook ISBN: 9781315266442
Adobe ISBN:


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Stereotypes can be positive or negative; some are useful, but seriously inaccurate stereotypes become misleading and potentially harmful. In different places and times, suburbs have been stereotyped in various ways: positively by those moving from the city and also by rural-urban migrants, negatively by outsiders, particularly intellectuals, with “urban” values. Both the positive and especially the negative stereotypes have evolved over time. Early criticisms emphasized physical homogeneity, social conformity, and cultural deficiency. More recently, as suburbanization has been associated with urban sprawl, a clichéd argument now associates suburbs with negative effects on the natural environment and on public health. But some societies do not have a single name, still less a stereotype, of the sorts of places that North Americans call suburbs.

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