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The suburbs as sites of 'within-planning' power relations


  • Mace, Alan


Despite a longstanding and varied body of literature on suburban difference, a simplified narrative of the suburbs persists that is represented by a city–suburb binary. This is damaging as it undermines our understanding of the social dynamics of the places in which, in the United Kingdom, the majority of the population live. This article looks at the reasons for the persistence of a city–suburb binary. It engages with suburban housing as a Bourdieuian field in order to show how simplified characterisations of the suburban serve the interest of particular groups, including within planning. Bourdieu’s field theory offers a powerful means to understand how judgements of the suburbs are naturalised and so become common-sense truths. As field theory indicates ‘within-planning’ power relations that support particular truths, it offers the possibility of challenging these by exposing the taken-for-granted norms of the city-suburb binary.

Suggested Citation

  • Mace, Alan, 2016. "The suburbs as sites of 'within-planning' power relations," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 65798, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:65798

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Loretta Lees, 2003. "Super-gentrification: The Case of Brooklyn Heights, New York City," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 40(12), pages 2487-2509, November.
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    More about this item


    suburbs; Bourdieu; housing fields; planning culture;

    JEL classification:

    • R14 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Land Use Patterns
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General

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