The middle classes and the remaking of the suburban family community: evidence from the Netherlands

  • Lia Karsten
  • Tineke Lupi
  • Marlies de Stigter-Speksnijder


This paper presents data on everyday life in three recently built Dutch suburban areas constructed under the Vinex national urban planning policy. Its focus is on family households and today’s division of work and care, social life and neighbourhood activism. The results show that suburbs are no longer breeding grounds for the traditional nuclear family. But, while the rate of working mothers is high, the limited use of professional child care still reflects the tradition that maintains that children are best cared for in the private domain. Having children is crucial for putting down roots and developing social networks. In contrast to the past, both working mothers and fathers are actively constructing family communities. The newly established family communities are firmly of the middle class and tend to exclude childless and lowerclass households. Neighbourhood activism involves both the reproduction of an unspoiled and orderly environment and the realisation of a suburban paradise for children. This paper further reveals differences in the suburban areas studied and discusses the false dichotomy between the urban and the suburban within the metropolitan area.


Daily life Middle class families Neighbourhood Social networks Gender divisions of work and care 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lia Karsten
    • 1
  • Tineke Lupi
    • 1
  • Marlies de Stigter-Speksnijder
    • 1
  1. 1.AISSR/Urban GeographiesUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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