Graduate Theses & Dissertations

Growing Up in Postwar Suburbia
Growing Up in Postwar Suburbia: Childhood, Children and Adolescents in Canada, 1950-1970 This dissertation explores the intersections between the suburban landscape both `real' and imagined, childhood, children and adolescents. I contend that there was a richness and diversity in the experiences of children and adolescents in postwar Canada that resists simplistic stereotypes that often depict suburbia as primarily middle-class, dull, homogeneous, conformist, and alienating for residents of all ages. Suburban living has become the definitive housing choice for the majority of Canadians since the end of World War II. Suburban homes and communities were critical in shaping the everyday lives of young people in this period. These young lives were predominantly safe, comfortable, and enriched in their homescapes. Yet this was not a universal condition. While class and gender were important factors shaping childhood and adolescence, my research findings also show that children and adolescents exercised their agency in this period, and they were active participants in their lives on personal, educational, community, and municipal levels. Young people were monitored, regulated and disciplined, but they were not passive receptacles in a world dominated by adults. This interdisciplinary study uses a wide range of archival, visual and documentary sources, and also integrates oral histories as a key methodology. These oral histories have added important reflections on childhood and adolescence in postwar suburbia, providing insight into how memory constructs multiple meanings associated with the dissertation's key themes. Ultimately, I offer a pan-Canadian view of changing images and constructions of childhood by delving into more specific topics to children and adolescents using postwar Calgary suburbia as a focal point in order to understand the heterogeneity of suburban life. In studying the intersections of place, space, age, class, sexuality, `race,' and gender, I demonstrate that the lives of children and adolescents are woven into the fabric of postwar Canadian social and cultural history in a profound and meaningful way. Author Keywords: adolescence, adolescents, childhood, children, history, suburbs

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