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Citation Information

Type Thesis or Dissertation - Master of Arts
Title Suburban Advantage: Social Reality or Lingering Ideal
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2012
URL https://dlib.lib.washington.edu/researchworks/bitstream/handle/1773/20872/Beeson_washington_0250O_10​274.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
Despite growing evidence to the contrary, social scientists continue to impress images of
suburbs as advantaged areas on the periphery of disadvantaged cities (Alba and logan 1991; Alba
et al. 1999; Logan and Alba 1993; Logan et a. 1996; Iceland 2009; Schneider and Phelan 1993;
South and Crowder 1997; Stahura 1987; Timberlake et al. 2011). Yet, many urban scholars have
expressed a need to relax the city-suburb dichotomy that prevails in some urban-focused
literatures because it consistently overlooks increasing racial and economic heterogeneity among
suburbs (Rury and Saatcioglu 2011; Hanlon et al 2006; Lang and Simmons 2001; Mikelbank
2004). The dichotomous representation of suburban advantage versus central city disadvantage is
particularly problematic if suburbs are changing in the way urban researchers suggest.
The urban demographic literature discussed here reinforces suburbs as locationally
representative of key economic and social advantages, while central cities typify opposing
disadvantages (Alba and Logan 1993; Crowder and South 2005; Crowder and South 2008;
Massey and Denton 1987; Massey and Denton 1993; South and Crowder 1997). This blanket
conception of suburban residence has not been systematically assessed despite growing evidence
that suburbs have grown less socially and economically homogeneous in recent periods. The
lingering identification of suburban location with socioeconomic advantage in social scientific
research relies on two core assumptions: (1) suburbs have remained similarly advantaged over
time; and (2) suburban patterns are uniform across different regions, and across multiple
decades. This study aspires to systematically test these assumptions by comparing the
socioeconomic well-being of Americans in suburbs and central cities.

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