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On the Edge: The contested cultures of English suburbia

Rupa Huq

Price: £15.99

'The next election will be won and lost in suburbia': Interview with Rupa Huq on The Guardian Comment is Free.

'Flight of the minorities: London's soul is in its suburbs', Article by Rupa Huq in The Guardian.

‘A fascinating exploration of the complexity and diversity of contemporary suburban life. In challenging our view of the suburbs this book challenges our view of England – and in so doing disrupts mainstream political orthodoxy.’ Jon Cruddas

Suburbs and the relationships that sustain them have been subject to tremendous changes in the last fifty years, with changing work patterns, changing family lives, changing patterns of home ownership and a massive shift in the structural relationships between inner cities and their surrounding urban environment. But this transformation has been largely overlooked, and the suburbs have lived on in the collective imagination as places that are homogenous and/or boring.

But suburbs have always come in many shapes and sizes, and this book documents widely varying forms of suburban life to construct a compelling narrative of suburban diversity and variety. Huq demonstrates conclusively that those who still fondly imagine the suburbs as the preserve of maiden aunts on bicycles, the domain of archetypal Englishness – or less fondly as places of stifling conformism and stagnation – are wide of the mark. In this sense her re-imagining of the suburbs is also a re-imagining of Englishness.

In an analysis that ranges across gender, ethnicity, class, religion, lifestyle, consumerism, family life, gentrification, property relations, political representation, city life and globalisation, Huq presents a convincing case for the need to radically rethink the way we understand contemporary suburban life.

Rupa Huq is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Kingston University and Labour MP for Ealing Central and Acton. Her first book, Beyond Subculture: pop, youth and identity in a postcolonial world, was shortlisted for the British Sociological Association's Philip Abrams Memorial Prize. She was Deputy Mayoress of the London Borough of Ealing from 2010 to 2011. She has lived for most of her life in suburbia apart from periods studying at Cambridge and Strasbourg Universities and a stint working at the University of Manchester.


1. Re-situating suburbia
2. Suburbia at the polls: the periphery as political centre of gravity
3. Alt. Suburbia: citizenship on the periphery
4. Faith in the suburbs: identity, interaction, belonging and belief
5. Consuming suburbia
6. Extremism in the suburbs
7. Suburbia in an age of insecurity: hard times on the edge?
Postscript: the grass on the other side

Reviews of On the Edge:
‘An updated, nuanced and much needed picture of suburbia’
Joe Cox, Compass    

‘Huq seeks not just to resuscitate suburbia, but to rehabilitate it as a political concern of the left’
Tristram Hunt, MP, Progress Online 

'A cogent argument against political neglect of the suburbs'
Angel Dahouk, Morning Star

Also available:
Rupa Huq on BBC Radio 3, Night Waves

Publication date: February 2013       224pp                             
ISBN: 9781907103728

Price: £15.99

Also available on Kindle