Toward a comparative global suburbanism

Authored by: Pierre Hamel , Roger Keil

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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The global proliferation of suburbanization as a process of building human settlements at the peripheries of cities and suburban ways of life requires that we bring a comparative perspective to the study of suburbs. We here make the case for such a comparative project. Based on the experience of a large-scale international research initiative on global suburbanisms, we argue that comparative global suburban research will yield new empirical insights on the variegation of suburban life around the world and lead to new ideas that will refresh urban theory. Our argument includes four points. First, we lay out conceptually that suburbanization is part of the general tendency of extended urbanization that engulfs the globe. Second, we mark empirically some of the ways in which this tendency has now been recognized around the world. Third, we discuss the significance of spatial thinking to understanding suburbanization (and vice versa). Finally, we suggest bringing critical urban theory to bear on suburbanization and, in turn, to acknowledge the relevance of suburban research to urban theory.

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