Traditional urbanism meets residential affluence: An analysis of the variability of suburban preference

Emily Talen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


This article evaluates the likelihood that wealthy suburban residents in the U.S. would endorse the ideas currently being promulgated by advocates of traditional urbanism. The results of an attitudinal survey of 185 affluent, mostly White residents of a suburb 25 miles north of Dallas, Texas, are reported. Four hypotheses were developed and used to assess what aspects of residential preference may be linked to an acceptance of traditional urban-ism concepts. The findings indicate that residents are very attached to their neighborhood and are unlikely to accept criticisms of their suburban lifestyle. Further, agreement with traditional urbanism concepts was associated with a perceived failure of the physical planning aspects of suburban development such as access to services. The conclusion is that in general, affluent suburban residents are likely to base any disfavor with suburban living on factors that affect them in very practical ways and not on a lack of community sentiment or a sense of the social or environmental weaknesses of suburban development. The findings also support the view that residential preferences are not inflexible and are sometimes even contradictory. This adaptability suggests that education about the impacts of development may be warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-216
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of the American Planning Association
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Urban Studies


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