After Suburbia: Lineaments of a strategy for research and action in the suburban century

Authors: Roger Keil*, YORK UNIVERSITY
Topics: Urban Geography
Keywords: Suburbanization, suburbanisms
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Grand Ballroom D, Astor, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The suburbs have been out of style. Millennials are said to prefer “urban” environments. Climate change is at home in suburbia. Reviled by most professionals and academics due to their ecological impact and problematic societal effects, the suburbs are largely invisible in theoretical debates on the future of urbanism. Still, suburbanization continues unabated. Around the world, the spatial peripheries of cities are expanding fast and are buzzing with activities. In the process, suburbanization diversifies in morphology, socioeconomic and demographic profile, and the experienced boundaries between the cities and their peripheries are increasingly breaking down.

Yet, as pervasive the suburban has become, it is under-researched and perhaps misunderstood. In this intervention, I put forward the lineaments of a strategy for research and action on suburbanization and suburban ways of life that may guide some of our work in future years. This is based on the experience of a long-term, globally scaled comparative research project. Distilling some of the results of this project, this presentation will look ahead to identify ways in which research on suburbanization could be best placed in the mainstream of theoretical and conceptual debates in urban studies more generally. Assuming that life on the global urban periphery is changing rapidly into a set of postsuburban constellations that provide novel insight into the urban condition, I make the case that understanding the suburban world and confronting its many challenges is of utmost importance to the work urban geographers need to do.

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