Suburbanization and Metropolitan Change

Economic restructuring, demographic shifts, digital telecommunications technologies, and neoliberal impulses have given rise to a stereotypical ‘New Metropolis’ that is characterized by disjointed and fragmented ‘post-suburban’ landscapes of edge cities, off-ramp subdivisions, office parks, commercial corridors, and ‘edgeless cities’ of low-density office development.  The social ecologies that have developed within and around these landscapes have not, until now, been systematically and comprehensively mapped, though it is clear from the literature that the classic, Fordist ‘sitcom suburbs’ of mid-twentieth century metropolitan development have been increasingly overshadowed by a splintering suburbanism of exurbs, boomburbs, manufacturing suburbs, aging suburbs, cosmoburbs, immigrant suburbs, and gated privatopias. This project, working with former graduate students David Bieri and Fang Wei, involves an exploration of high-resolution changes to the spatial structure of socioeconomic development in U.S. suburban areas, based on an analysis of decennial census tract data between 1960 and 2000 for every metropolitan region in the United States. The aim is to build a description of the evolving social ecological description of modern American suburbanism and systematically evaluate the trajectory and extent of changes that have taken place in post-Fordist suburbia.

Funded in part by the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council’s Major Collaborative Research Initiative on Global Suburbanism.suburbanism image