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Pacific Historical Review

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Rockford files (Television program), Sopranos (Television program), Suburbs, Popular culture


Both in television shows such as The Rockford Files and The Sopranos and in the fiction of writers such as John Updike, Richard Ford, and Douglas Coupland, popular culture draws a distinction between Atlantic Coast and Pacific Coast suburbs. The differences revolve around two themes. The first concerns the roles of place and space. The second is the varying weight of history, often as manifested through families and social ties. Eastern suburbs and suburbanites are commonly depicted as embedded in place, rooted in time, and entangled in social networks. Western suburbs and suburbanites are often imagined as the opposite—isolated in space, atemporal, and free (or bereft) of social bonds.

* This was his presidential address at the annual meeting of the Pacific Coast Branch, American Historical Association, in Denver, Colorado, on August 10,2013.


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