Sociological Forum

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 393–418 | Cite as

Family togetherness and the suburban ideal

  • Laura J. Miller


An examination of the history of suburbanization in the United States shows that the suburban ideal has, from its beginnings, been associated with a vision of family togetherness, meaning that husband, wife, and children choose to spend their leisure time with one another. While the migration to the suburbs has been in part fueled by a desire to escape the mix of classes and ethnic groups of urban areas, and by government- and market-shaped economic incentives, the suburban ideal has stressed finding an environment in which family ties can be strengthened. The social and spatial structure of suburbia promotes familial isolation through a lack of public space and through an emphasis on home maintenance and home-centered entertainments. It is argued that by providing such optimal conditions for togetherness, suburbia may actually undermine familial harmony by exacerbating the strain of trying to live up to an essentially unattainable ideal.

Key words

suburbs family public space isolation 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura J. Miller
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Sociology 0102University of California San DiegoLa Jolla

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