A postsuburban world? An outline of a research agenda

Nicholas A. Phelps, Andrew M. Wood, David C. Valler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

121 Scopus citations


The emergence over the last 30-40 years of what is variously termed edge city, edgeless, and postsuburban development in North America and elsewhere raises a set of challenges for urban theory and existing ways of understanding the politics of urban growth and management. These challenges and their global import have been outlined in their broadest terms by members of a 'Los Angeles School'. In this paper we try to develop the detail of some of these challenges in ways that might allow for comparative analysis. We begin by considering three analytical dimensions along which distinctively postsuburban settlements might be identified. These dimensions are not without their limitations but we regard them as a heuristic device around which to centre ongoing comparative research. We then go on to highlight three political contradictions attending postsuburban growth which appear to flow from some of these defining dimensions. To the extent that such post-suburban growth and politics are distinctive, they pose important challenges to established theories of urban politics. We briefly consider these challenges in the conclusion of the paper.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)366-383
Number of pages18
JournalEnvironment and Planning A
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)


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