On the Ground in Suburbia: A Chronicle of Social and Civic Transformation in Los Angeles Since 1945


ACLS Fellowship Program


Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West


This project explores the relationship between the suburban environment and patterns of social and civic engagement over the past half century. With a majority of people in the United States now living in the suburbs, it is imperative that the changing forces that have shaped the possibilities for democratic community experience in these places be understood. This study provides a comprehensive social history of suburban life from 1945-2000, considering the many ways that social diversification has revised the experiences and meanings of suburban living. It uses the Los Angeles suburbs as case studies to probe themes of race, class, immigration, gender, children, family, the human lifecycle, and the built environment. Attentive to the broad influences of metropolitan political economy and globalization, the study examines the uneven ways these forces operated in everyday suburban life, revealing how social and civic life were at once unleashed and constrained by the new suburbia.