Suburbs Are Urban Places Too


Laura Vaughan, CityLab

Scholar and author Peter Ackroyd argues that suburbs have complex urban qualities, but they are poorly understood.

While both urban and rural studies have long thrived, the academic study of suburbs is still a relatively new field—despite the fact that, as Ackroyd has claimed, suburbs are as old as the city itself.

Academic research into suburbs tends to consider them separately from the city, frequently viewing them as an undefined mass within a chaotic landscape at the city edges. Rather than taking the city out of the suburb or the suburb out of the city, the intention of the recently published Suburban Urbanities: Suburbs and the Life of the High Street has been to consider the two together: the suburb as a continuum of the city’s spatial–social complexity. The book therefore intends to make the case for suburban urbanity. It counteracts the binary opposition between city and suburb and challenges the perception that urbanity only exists in the city.

Image credit: Andrew Reed Wildman, Flickr