In the decades following World War II, the population of the United States underwent a massive migration to the suburbs. The society which became the “Patio Culture” of the 1950’s and 1960’s has been the subject of much criticism from intellectuals and social scientists both then and now. Much of the criticism can be attributed to the mind set of the critics themselves, which could be considered apathetic to the conditions of the middle class. While many of the social problems that the critics so poignantly singled out did, in fact, exist, they often did not manifest themselves to the extent that was claimed, and they were also simultaneously taking place outside of suburbia as well.
When undergoing an examination of the charges against suburban culture, one must take into account the mind set of the intellectual elite of the 1950’s. It must be understood that the conclusions they reached were usually based on a cosmopolitan world view; a view which included such urban facilities as museums and ethnic districts, most of which were lacking in suburbia. What they perceived as blandness and conformity were really only the home-centeredness that is characteristic of the lower middle class culture. Suburbanites were viewed by critics as outsiders who saw their community from a “tourist perspective”. The tourist mind set required excitement and a sense of the exotic, and this conflicted with the mind set of the homeowner which required a comfortable and secure place to live. This discrepancy in views created an intellectual disappointment by critics since their expectations were not met.1[Read more…]