This paper draws on extended fieldwork in San Diego County to show that suburban residents exhibit a particular set of rights-claims that they make specifically around their residence in their suburban community. These claims are largely made legitimate by homeownership and are based around maintenance of a perceived ideal lifestyle. In addition, I discuss the duties that suburban citizens feel bound to uphold. Residents of the community feel it is their duty to respect the perceived rights of others to maintain a safe, clean, and healthy community. A major focus of this suburban citizenship is an attempt to keep perceived threats away from the community. I illustrate that a suburban form of citizenship springs from a tension and uneasy synthesis between two competing conceptions of citizenship—one based on individual rights-claims and the other based on community membership and involvement.
Civics in the Suburbs: Where NIMBYism reflects community
Scott Vandehey earned his Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from UC, San Diego. His research, based on extensive fieldwork in suburban communities surrounding San Diego, focuses on suburban citizenship and politics. He is currently investigating how sustainability issues and local citizenship interact. He teaches at Willamette University and Linfield College.
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Scott Vandehey; Civics in the Suburbs: Where NIMBYism reflects community. Boom 1 July 2013; 3 (2): 52–71. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/boom.2013.3.2.52
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