SOC208 2019 Tut 3 Fri 1230 – ‘The most suburban nation in the world’ – origins and influences for the Australian nuclear-family suburban model

Australians were amongst the first to claim the space between city and country as sites to raise nuclear families, and laid the foundation for a way of life that would see Australia become the world’s most suburbanized country in the 20th century. They were inspired by religious interests in purer lives and European/American movements to create and live in healthier, greener environments. The English Garden City movement started by Ebenezzer Howard encouraged an interest in creating new communities in places like Northern and Western Sydney.

American innovations had even more to offer us. The Chicago School of Sociology provided a model for the rise of the suburbs in most countries, with the movement of wealthier families into these outer regions as a natural progression away from the poverty, ill health and poor sanitation in the cities. American experiments also influenced the design and spread of our cities, from the proto-suburban model communities of Llwellyn Park near New York – featuring set-back houses, fixed blocks, contoured streets, and shared gardens funded by private owners’ association levies – to the back to front design of Radburn houses that were incorporated into Australia’s large scale, post-war, public housing projects.

And critical to the development of American and Australian suburbs was the taxpayer-subsidised ascension of the automobile over pedestrians and streetcars. Motor cars enabled longer commutes, ‘easy’ movement in and out of suburban spaces, and the creation of shopping plazas with large car-parks built around highway junctions – precursors to our modern, Westfields, mega-shopping malls.

All of this lead to the rise of the ‘special’ 1950s, and the dominance of the ‘quarter acre block’ suburban nuclear family in Australia at this time and for several decades thereafter. Families had never seemed tighter, smaller, younger, or more specialised, with most adults married (only 22% single), an absence of grandparents and extended kin, a median marriage age of 23, and with less than a third of mothers working in some form of paid employment.

However, these movements already began laying the seeds of their own undoing by the 1960s. The unsustainable sprawl of houses since the 1970s, the congestion of cars, and the stifling, mono-cultural and patriarchal nature of the dominant nuclear family – all living in the most suburban country in the world, lacking in cosmopolitan culture and riding its somewhat accidental good luck – these things would all become apparent within a few short decades.

S208UOW19 #Tut3 #Fri1230

Posted in SOC208 - Cities, Communities and Families, UOW.

6 Comments on SOC208 2019 Tut 3 Fri 1230 – ‘The most suburban nation in the world’ – origins and influences for the Australian nuclear-family suburban model

Karissa Zantiotis said : Guest Report 3 weeks ago

It is thought that Australia has some of the finest modern cities in the world and that over most of history they have not been centred on urban living. Over 85% of Australians total population live in low density suburbs and a lot of this comes from British Colonisation as the Metropolitan cities on the Australian continent were built as a function of colonisation. In recent times it is thought that the growth of the city has been due to the interactions between urban environment and the natural environment. These people living in over populated and urban areas will still be able connect with the local ecosystems and natural environment. The separation feeling between both natural and urban environments will be forgotten and they can co-exist together with an important function in society.

Tamika said : Guest Report 3 weeks ago

The 1950's was a standout period for Australia as suburban life became a dominance and ultimately the, "Australian Dream". Nuclear families sprawled throughout the suburbs, along with motor vehicles enabling easier commuting, which highly took advantage of movement between spaces. Also, the rise of modern electrical appliances such as vacuums, refrigerators, toasters, iron boards, clothes lines and sewing machines had contributed to the Australian dream houses of suburbia (Pearson History, 2013). No doubt, suburbia created an, "ideal way of living", which even sparked politicians to encourage this way of life according to journalist Zielinski (2013). But what were the influences that sparked the Australian nation to become one of the "most", suburban nations in the world? The American consumerist and materialist culture had, in ways, provided influence over the Australian suburban life (Skwirk 2014). The term, 'Americanization', is defined to be an influence by the United States upon another country (Trethowan 2014). Americanization in Australia started in the 1950's, and had shaped cultural aspects such as, music, sport, TV and leisure. Not only did Americanization portray influence over cultural aspects, but also urban innovation, which re-structured the design and spread of Australian cities (Pearson 2013). Another influence in the rise of suburbia was, according to Butler (2005), "progressive planning movements", which sprouted from the industrialisation period of the mid 1800's to early 1900's, and the post war period. It is evident that the poverty, overcrowding, and poor health concerns of the cities had shifted people into seeking a better lifestyle. Butler (2005), argued that the, 'planning laws' of the production of suburbia played a crucial role, as it re-constructed a, "representation of space" and also a provided a realisation towards the physical urban environment. Therefore, the influence of Americanization and progressive planning movements from the industrial periods, have shaped and moulded the cultural aspects and urban settings of Australia's identity today.

Gracie Walker said : Guest Report 3 weeks ago

The interactions of urban environments with the natural environment is an ideal situation to allow for the growth of a city while staying in touch with the local ecosystem. The concept of Robert Park’s ‘Human ecology’ is a term used to understand the interactions of urban places with the natural environment and the process of each functioning ecosystem interacting and co-existing with one another. He looks at how the cities are a living environment that functions successfully when paired with natural environments allowing them to ‘evolve organically’ through competition and cooperation. Furthermore, the concept of the ‘garden city’ established by Sir Ebenezer Howard addresses the positive impacts on a city for maintaining the interactions with green, rural spaces. These interactions will allow for those living in densely populated urban environments to still be able to understand and connect with the local ecosystems and natural environment. Through this integration the feeling of segregation between both natural and urban environments will be demolished and the functioning of them both together will be far more beneficial.

Kathy Miller said : Guest Report 3 weeks ago

Changing Times The concept of the ‘Garden City’ was introduced as a way to bring the country lifestyle to the city to offer the best of both worlds, however the question remains if this is really possible. Placing a park in the city to provide an outdoor area for city dwellers cannot offer the environment of wide open spaces, fresh air, and the simplicity of a country lifestyle. Drawing on content last week from the Coontz reading, I discussed the changes in family structure with the rise of the nuclear family in suburbia with an explanation that was rather simple. As time has progressed multiple factors have allowed us to have greater freedoms and choices in how we live our lives and that focus has shifted from that of basic survival to now living more of a personally fulfilling life, with time to devote to our own personal goals. After reading of the different theories presented by Fischer this explained the diversity of responsiveness of the individual to the environment they live in within communities as population increases. The determinist theory casting a negative light on city life as something that impacts us/ our personality in a negative way, the compositional theory suggesting that city life has no impact on us socially and the subcultural theory supporting and strengthening social ties for the individual. I think some truth is within all theories, as described as a mosaic of social worlds that can be exciting and full of opportunities, and for some a sensory overload with the fastpaced lifestyle and vastness of cultures or groups becoming overwhelming for others. Some individuals may find and increase of bonds in smaller groups and communities whilst others may thrive on highly populated areas and the colourful lifetsyle’s and opportunities presented by larger groups with the diversity within their community. I think this is why we see differences in opinions and preferences for city lover’s vs country lifestyle preferences.

Nicholas Michell said : Guest Report 3 weeks ago

The notion of the garden city is something that is quite fascinating. The concept was established by Sir Ebenezer Howard in the United Kingdom and was the idea to combine urban foundations of the city with elements of the country side in order to create a somewhat of a more rural setting for people to live within. This would allow for the population of the city to still be able to reap the benefits of the city such as accessibility and services while also being able to enjoy parts of the country and nature. Fischer states that there are also many social-psychological consequences of urbanism (Fischer, 1984). These included the ‘determinist theory’ or the ‘Wirthian Theory’ which was the idea that urbanism increases the amount of social and personality disorders compared to those found in rural areas. The ‘Compositional theory’ or ‘nonecological theory’ which is the suggestion that there are no individual impacts of city life on people’s behaviours. The final theory is the ‘subcultural theory’ which states that it “helps create and strengthen [social groups] them” (Fischer, 1984). These three theories exhibit the different impacts that living in urban and rural areas has on the people who choose to live in each type of area.

Samantha Jones said : Guest Report 4 weeks ago

in his paper, 'Australian Cities', Trevor Hogan believes that Australia has built some of the finest modern cities in the world. He explains that Australian cities have not been urban centred for most of their history. Over 85% of Australians total population live in low density suburbs. The greater part of these in the thin rind of coast between north Brisbane down to Geelong between the great dividing range and pacific ocean. Hogan explains that the story of Urbanisation down under commences with British Colonisation. All of the Metropolitan cities on the Australian continent were built as a function of colonisation. Australia was born on the cusps of Industrial revolution, with urbanisation and manufacturing taking flight in the first few decades of the nineteenth century. Skip forward to the dawn of the twentieth century to Sydney and Melbourne seen as two of the largest and wealthiest cities on a per capita basis. This is because these two cities were apart of a global network of New World settler-colonial port cities. During this time there was little need for small scale villages and rural communities and villages, with gold rushes and mining towns coming and going except those that were well appointed and within easy distance of the metropolitan centres. Rail and telegraph were two major contributors that made suburbia possible. The arrival of the motor car in WW2 ensured its rapid sprawl, especially in Perth, Brisbane, Hobart and Canberra as they did not have a significant transport system. Hogan explains that the sprawl of Suburbia however has made it difficult to provide efficient and equitable forms of collective transport and utilities. As the world is facing up to pending oil shortages and greenhouse warming due largely to gas emissions from industries and cars. Hogan explains that a key tool to the demographic growth of Australia was immigration. He explains that immigration boosted after WW2 and is still increasing in intensity and size. However, despite ongoing government efforts to provide incentives for migrants to settle into other regions, the metropolitan cities absorb the majority. There has also been a large boom in the numbers of international university students enrolled in metropolitan schools and universities. Hogan expresses australian cities and suburbia is successful due to its livability, as it provides public and private space, public utilities and facilities, emergency services, attractive civic design, mobility and access on a relatively egalitarian basis; high standards of public health. Although hogan believes that australian cities are liveable this does not mean they are sustainable. This is due to overconsumption of natural resources. Hogan believes the central challenge for the next generation is to design cities with greater emphasis on resource conservation especially water and oil. He ends his paper stating that the fate of the nation is in the hands of the city dwellers, this time around australian suburbanites will have to reinvent the nation without recourse to rural labour and settler myths: ‘we love a sunburnt suburbia, a land of sweeping tollways and shopping malls.

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