The two best sociological books on suburbs I know

I recently worked a project that involved looking over a number of studies of suburbs undertaken by sociologists and other scholars. After being immersed in these works for a while, I was reminded of my two favorite sociological books about the suburbs:

#2. Baumgartner, M. P. 1988. The Moral Order of a Suburb. New York: Oxford University Press.

This work is relatively short and simple for an ethnographic study: it examines the social interactions of suburbanites in a New York suburb. The main finding is that suburban community is built around limited interactions as well as interactions that keep the peace. Open conflict is limited. Privacy and autonomy are very important. The residents are fairly transient and mobile but the community is held together by the social norms that limit open or consistent conflict. The study is not comprehensive regarding suburban life yet its insight about what holds suburban communities together is hard to match.

#1. Gans, Herbert J. 1967. The Levittowners. New York: Pantheon Books.

Gans moved into one of the early Levittowns and proceeded to study the community from the inside for several years. His work both provides one of the most comprehensive looks into post-war suburban life (many discussions about schools, interacting with neighbors, raising kids) as well as interacts with common critiques and stereotypes of such suburbs (some of which have some validity while others are not true). I have not found another sociological study of suburbs of this magnitude.

11 thoughts on “The two best sociological books on suburbs I know

  1. Pingback: Not needing “for sale” signs in wealthy suburbs | Legally Sociable

  2. Pingback: Living the suburban teenage life through local Twitter | Legally Sociable

  3. Pingback: Why Americans love suburbs #4: middle-class utopia | Legally Sociable

  4. Pingback: The social norm of calling the authorities regarding the mothering of others | Legally Sociable

  5. Pingback: Americans love It’s A Wonderful Life but did not heed its main lessons, Part Two | Legally Sociable

  6. Pingback: Cooking meat in a suburban backyard and resolving suburban conflicts | Legally Sociable

  7. Pingback: The long-lasting consequences of the original conditions in Levittown | Legally Sociable

  8. Pingback: Palaces for the People, Part 3: school entries that discourage social interaction | Legally Sociable

  9. Pingback: Gendered McMansions, Part 3: suburban sprawl and raising children | Legally Sociable

  10. Pingback: Better methods than fines for encouraging the shoveling of sidewalks | Legally Sociable

  11. Pingback: “Who sings the song of suburbia?” Part One | Legally Sociable

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s