What is Suburbia?


The handbook says that the first tutorial will look at what constitutes ‘suburbia’ and whether it is ‘dream or nightmare’.

I imagine the first part of that question might be a bit easier to come to grips with than the second. I haven’t done any serious reading on this but my understanding of suburbia would be that (geographically) it is the region between the outer limits of the city eg West Perth/Subiaco and the beginnings of rural areas eg Bickley.

I say ‘geographically’ because I’m not sure if that is the only way to frame an understanding of suburban life. I have a sense that suburbia might be equally described by the values and patterns of life that give form to it. Things like stability, security, conformity and consumerism are some of the more common aspects. Its not to say these aren’t present elsewhere but suburbs do seem to foster some common values.

The lecturer today seemed to use the terms urban and sub-urban interchangeably which I found a bit odd. I understand that typically we speak of urban and rural areas, but that ‘sub’ urban would be an area either distinct to or a subset of the urban.

I hope to use this unit to do some reflection especially on my own suburban experience because there is no question that Brighton is almost a caricature of ‘the suburb’.

If you go to the Satterley Estates home page you can view the TV ads for our estate and it will speak volumes to you about the kind of community the developer is trying to sell to you. (If you look real close you will see us in the first 2 or 3 seconds of the ad – walking beside the lake)

I’d be interested to hear what you see as you look at them and what impressions you get of our community.

To check out our local area more specifically you can go here

5 thoughts on “What is Suburbia?

  1. I am interested in those definitions, though they may be slightly different in different areas of the world. If I lived in Washington State, Urban would definitely be Seattle/Tacoma. I live in Montana, whose total state population doesn’t even come close to Seattle’s. (We still have less than 1 million people.) So, does Missoula – one of the top 3 most populated cities in the state at slightly less than 90,000 – fall into the urban category because of the comparison to the rest of the state, or, as you said, are there other ways to define urban, suburban, and rural? I live in an unincorporated town 8 miles south of Missoula – a bedroom community to Missoula, as it’s called. Would it be considered rural because of its size, or suburban because of it’s proximity and role in housing Missoula workers (much like a suburb of Seattle would be)? And, being so close to the urban center of the area, I’m discovering still how that plays into youth ministry, as all our kids attend school in Lolo (the town we live in), until high school (grades 9-12), then are bussed into Missoula. Great thoughts so far. I won’t be able to read or comment often, but I look forward to stopping in when I can to walk through this discussion with you.

  2. Pingback: blog one another

  3. I’ve often thought it odd that people refer to suburbia as if it’s something different. Like Perth, most of Adelaide (where I live) would be described as suburban – one asks “what suburb do you live in?” – so I’ve thought of it as the default location, with the urban core as the ‘different’ place.

    From what I’ve read, many US cities might be different in this regard, with larger urban areas and with poorer people living in urban areas while in Aust the outer suburbs tend to be poorest.

    I have a keen interest in geography, and have written a couple of articles on where geography meets mission. (lots of maps, inc one of Perth)


  4. Good comment Eric. Hamo, it raises for me the question of how you’ve often spoken of suburbia – as if many of us aspire to be here or even have a choice. I enjoy your comments because they provoke thought and challenge my assumptions but, for me, urban and country living are actually aspirational. As one of the 80% of Aussies in the cities, I’m stuck in the burbs.

    Which brings to mind Tom Hanks in The Burbs.

    Look forward to your journey into the soul of suburbia.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *