Not simply deriding suburban life

An AP story discusses a supposed movement to take the suburbs more seriously and move beyond common negative stereotypes. One scholar accurately notes:

“Change your mind about what the suburbs are,” said Robert Puentes, a suburban scholar at the Brookings Institution. “They’re not just bedroom communities for center-city workers. They’re not just rich enclaves. They’re not all economically stable. They’re not all exclusively white.”

“These are not your father’s suburbs of the 1950s and 1960s.”

Efforts toward this end include a new museum in Johnson County, Kansas and several academic centers.

These stereotypes will take time to overcome. Common stereotypes, dating back to at least the 1950s, include: bland homes and people, desperate housewives, whites only, lifestyles centered all around children, wealthy people only, conservative, low-brow, garish (from strip malls to shopping malls to McMansions).

The story cites two academic centers for suburban studies. For much of the last 100 years, academics have often led the way in deriding suburbia. To fight some of these stereotypes, more academics would need to be able to move beyond knee-jerk reactions and acknowledge suburbia’s complexities.

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