Mission Statement

According to UN population projections, the world’s suburbs will experience sustained growth during the coming decades. The role of the Cultures of the Suburbs International Research Network is to forge global and multidisciplinary connections in order to address the implications of this growth, with specific reference to culture’s role in shaping and communicating suburban experience. Working collaboratively, we intend to evaluate the place of cultural forms and practices in the modern (post-1900) suburbs, to explore the impact of cultural representations on the perceptions and practices of commentators and policymakers, and to investigate the importance of suburbanites’ own cultural engagement.


The Network’s primary aim is to further the scholarly, professional and public understanding of the cultures of the modern suburbs through international and interdisciplinary research. By adopting a comparative approach, we seek to evaluate the relationship between suburban experience and its cultural representation in diverse global communities. By bringing together scholars in the arts, humanities and social sciences we seek a deeper understanding of suburban life than that which any one of these single disciplines can provide. We will examine the influence of cultural modes and practices on perceptions of suburbia (on the part of residents and external observers alike), and address the two-way relationship between cultural experience and social policy with a view to identifying and disseminating good practice.

Our specific research aims include:

  1. By pursuing collaborative and comparative research, to examine the role of cultural modes (such as literature, music, art and film) in the construction and dissemination – locally, nationally and internationally – of visions of suburbia.
  2. Thereby to assess the role (a) of suburban resident-participants and (b) of external observers in constructing and consuming images of suburbia, and to evaluate the impact of both parties’ cultural engagement on planning and related policies.
  3. By ensuring dialogue between partners and by fostering links between those inside and outside the suburbs to (a) examine the ways in which culture in a modern globalizing economy functions across geographical and political borders, and (b) evaluate culture’s role in transmitting ideals of suburban identity – particularly between developed and developing, established and new communities.
  4. By building on existing research strengths within the Network, to identify forms of cultural practice that foster civic engagement and, by working with others (for example community and school groups), to explore how specific sectors experience suburbia and create their own cultures and cultural memories.
  5. To evaluate critically the ways in which gender, sexuality, ethnicity, race and class have been represented in the cultures of different suburban communities and to consider processes of assimilation or exclusion.