Berkeley CSUA MOTD:Entry 45445
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2017/09/22 [General] UID:1000 Activity:popular
9/22    

2006/12/14-15 [Transportation/Car/RoadHogs, Transportation] UID:45445 Activity:nil
12/14   Suburbia is for superficial people:
        http://www.otal.umd.edu/~vg/mssp96/ms04/portfolio.html
2017/09/22 [General] UID:1000 Activity:popular
9/22    

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Cache (6374 bytes)
www.otal.umd.edu/~vg/mssp96/ms04/portfolio.html
Suburbia is a concept that has puzzled society ever since its formal creation at the end of the eighteenth century. The suburban phenomenon has been the focus of considerable attention and analysis due to its ambiguous nature and qualities. Analysis of suburbia, in the second half of this century, has primarily focused on understanding its nature and embodying values. This has been a difficult task since suburbia is often viewed as a component of an urban region rather than a distinct entity. A shift in the role of suburbia has occurred, within the past century, due to the popularization of the suburban form in mainstream American culture. Throughout its history, suburbia has been physically definable yet ideologically abstract. For much of its existence it had the luxury of being immune to the probing of external entities. A lack of a firm ideological base allowed it to freely alter its form and transform its views in accordance with the beliefs of the time. Suburbia was able to lurk within the shadows of urban areas while still assuming its own separate identity. This identity was an identity that never really existed and yet seemed to shape the character of its inhabitants. The ability to control one's destiny, a significant component of the American dream, quickly began to be associated with suburbia. Suburbia offered its inhabitants a part in molding their existence and future. The beauty of the natural landscape and the seclusion of the location offered families the necessary environment to raise their children. Suburbia was a place where dreams became reality and promises of a better tomorrow confronted its inhabitants with the dawn of each new day. This caused it to emerge as the embodying symbol of the American dream. It was a tool that allowed one to enjoy the pleasures of life without having to part with the conveniences of an urban environment. To understand the true nature of suburbia, one must consider its founding principles. Although they were not formally articulated, suburbia was built upon several defining notions. Suburbia was created as an escape for the middle class from a society that offered it few hopes of a prosperous future. The vision of suburbia was always a vision of exclusion and intolerance. It was, and still is, a haven for individuals to divide themselves based on class, race, and religion. Yet, this has often been denied in light of the beneficial environment and the spirit of freedom that is seen as inherent in the suburban image. The dream has always functioned as an illusion- a dream commonly used by suburbanites to construct a false reality and a superficial identity. Suburbia can no longer attempt to conceal its moral and social problems under the guise of a serene and pastoral environment. Many of the problems of the city that the suburbanites sought to escape followed them to suburbia. They failed to realize that the suburban image cannot change the characters of its inhabitants. Many suburbanites continue to be disillusioned about the power of the suburban form and they often fall prey to the deficiencies of their personalities. The suburban phenomenon has been the focus of analysis and discussion within the class HONR 159J: American Suburbia. I, along with my classmates, have conducted a topical study of the fibers that compose the suburban environment. These studies have been mounted in the form of virtual exhibitions that are intended to engage the reader with the suburban concept. The projects presented are contained within the framework of three main topics concerning suburbia: the physical environment, the values and identity of the suburbanites, and a case study of a suburban setting. The first project explored the physical landscape of suburbia. An artifact analysis was performed in order to understand the material culture of the suburban environment. From a general overview of the project, it is evident that suburbia possesses a unique material culture. Although the objects studied are not exclusively suburban in origin, they embody and represent a specific set of values. I chose to study the fireplace as a typical suburban artifact. After a discussion of the history and meanings of the artifact, I came to the conclusion that suburbanites commonly see the fireplace as an ornamental item. Its deeper significance as a family hub was lost in the social setting of suburbia. A study of the values that are attached to suburbia was the focus of the second project. This analysis was done in the context of the popular media. Issues such as race, class, age, and gender were explored through the medium of literature, television and film. The nature of suburbia as an exclusionary environment, even in the present time, is a common theme depicted in these works. Suburban gender portrayals in television commercials of the 1970s was the topic which I chose to explore. I found that the suburban image was used to reinforce the popular gender roles of the time. The third project consisted of a case study of a suburban community. An analysis of the physical and social elements was undertaken by the class in order to place the suburban phenomenon in a realistic and unified context. Through a survey of the various projects about Greenbelt, Maryland it can be seen that the community faced many of the social problems that gripped greater suburbia. Although it differed from suburbia due to its modeling around a set of specific ideals, its inhabitants did not always live up to these founding visions. These projects collectively discover the inherent character of suburbia. They dissect the phenomenon into specific topics and then synthesize the conclusions to mold a general picture of suburbia. From an overview of the projects, it is evident that suburbia lacks a social and moral ideal. Project one reaffirmed the tendency by suburbanites to use material objects to shield their personalities. The discriminatory and rejections tendency of suburbia to divide society is evident from a look at various project two exhibitions. Suburbia as a whole has a considerable distance to cross before its social setting is as appealing and inviting as its physical setting. Until suburbanites cease to use the image of suburbia as a shield to their actions, the suburban environment will continue to be an inhospitable environment for greater society.