What social values and patterns of behavior did suburban life encourage?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that the depiction of suburban life in the wake of the Second World War helped to fuel the idea that the urban setting was a cesspool of negativity while the suburbs were an ideal living setting.  The conditions that  brought this to light were many.  One such was the perception that the cities were unsafe and their massive congestion was a reflection of a lack of safety as well as an overall threatening condition.  Along these lines was the population swelling in each setting.  The suburbs were largely populated by the White society, individuals who were leaving the cities in droves.  This condition was termed as "white flight," because Whites were leaving the cities in a perceived response to the increase in the population of people of color, specifically African- Americans who were entering the cities.  At the same time, banks and lending institutions were approving more mortgages for suburban starter homes, while simultaneously "red lining" the same lending practices in the cities, contributing to a sense of economic disadvantage and lack of empowerment in these areas.  This helped to enhance the values and beliefs that "responsible" fiscal management existed in the suburbs, and a lack of fiscal security existed in the cities.  Such practices helped to demonize the cities and deify the suburbs.  These values, to a great extent, were absorbed by people in each setting and about the other setting.

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