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University of Toronto St. George
John Hannigan

Lecture - Feb 13 – suburban sprawl Suburbanization and suburban life came with a lot of stereotypes: Conformity: people are the same, houses looked the same, and streets were the same. Demographic homogeneity (white middle class, protestant, baby boom generation) - For example: o Desperate housewives – satire on middle class suburban stereotypes o Movie “Edward Scissor Hands” and “Pleasant Ville” (sucked into TV set forced to live in sitcom situations set in the late 1900s) - Stereotypical depictions – shallow, bland, superficial - BUT many of those involved in creating these stereotypes (writers, producers) did not actually live in the suburbs. - Some of these stereotypes did have an element of truth. E.g. conformity was not manufactured since suburbs were big on conformity. - People were striving for status and social capital and competing with one another but this was not unique to 1950-60s suburban communities; people have been doing that ever since the beginning of time. - The competition in suburbs was provoked to be magnified a bit by the nature of the economic system and the workplace in America during this era - One reason for conformity was the highly bureaucratized corporations imposed a high degree of conformity, starting with the work uniforms (or dress codes, especially in management). o Most men working in these corporations wore a suit and tie o People working here would also visibly lead a highly conforming lifestyle which included living in the suburbs. In some cases, the corporation dictated which suburb you could live in! For example: some suburbs were reserved for the upper management class. SO as you get a better job, you would move. This meant that those living in the same suburb came from the same level in the corporation. o The corporation also dictated workers’ political belief system. So here were expectations you had to meet if you wanted to work in a certain place or get a promotion. o Corporations also limited your physical mobility. They say that a good manager shouldn’t be left in one place for too long (same job or same company). So, it was a corporate policy to move you around and uprooted (longest time you could stay in one place was 5 years). - The phrase “The organization man” suggests that the first loyalty of middle class managers was to the corporation. Their identity was rooted in their workplace. - The suburban culture and environment magnified suburban stereotypes. - Those suburbanites in the 1950s and 60s in 20s and 30s moved to the suburbs in the first place because of their kids. But as time went on, 2 or 3 generation suburbanites left their homes and moved into condos elsewhere or even into the cities. So, this might have just been a phase of specifically to this baby boomer generation. Thus, the stereotypes are mainly of THESE specific suburban people. - Suburban soccer mom driving to her kids’ activities in the SUV. Soon, advertisers and politicians were aiming their causes to these soccer moms Another r
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