The Suburban Society
Published: December 1966© 1966
244 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.60 in
By questioning the widely accepted picture of suburban society which has been developed by many sociologists, social psychologists, and other serious students of social science, as well as by popular writers, this book will challenge much of our thinking about certain trends and developments in present-day society. The author, a distinguished Canadian sociologist, shows that there is no essential difference between the new society of the suburbs and any other new society in terms of the kind of forces which produced it. The suburban societies so far studied, he maintains, have been selected because they conform to the existing stereotype, and so the myths have been perpetuated.
Professor Clark pays special attention to the mass-developed suburbs. He shows that most suburban dwellers live in areas undergoing mass development, and that in such areas none of the characteristics commonly attributed to suburbia are to be found. The people who have moved to the suburbs in such large numbers are not, the author claims, "other directed" as Riesman would maintain, or "organization men" as Whyte has called them. They were, rather, mainly interested in finding houses to live in, having been forced out of the city in search of living space. By examining a number of suburban areas around Toronto, Professor Clark shows how the suburban society developed from crude beginnings, lacking almost all the attributes of a society, to a society largely urban in character.
"...a comparative study of suburbs...simply and straightforwardly written without a single word of sociological jargon. And it stands out from the vast and growing mass of studies of suburbia by being entirely free of the one thing most such studies have in common: the reduction of suburbs and their inhabitants to a handful of stereotypes—bored housewives, swarms of children, status-seeking, rigid conformity and suffocating togetherness. In sharp and welcome contrast, Professor Clark examines the special nature of each of the suburbs he deals with, in a manner detached enough to allow realistic appraisal, yet sympathetic enough to give proper consideration to suburbanities as the unstereotyped human beings they are." Maclean's Magazine
"The scope of Professor Clark's inquiry...provides a broad and balanced prospective...his analysis constitutes a much needed antidote to the existing studies, and represents a valuable and lasting contribution to our understanding of the suburban phenomenon." Canadian Welfare