Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Urban Research

From Levittown to Luther Village (1): Retirement Communities and the Changing Suburban Dream

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Urban Research

From Levittown to Luther Village (1): Retirement Communities and the Changing Suburban Dream

Article excerpt


Cette recherche utilise des donnees A partir de sources primaires (articles de joumaux, publicites et documents promotionnels) et une methodologie d'analyse de contenus afin d'examiner comment des communautes de retraites a Kitchener-Waterloo, dans I'Onatario, representent a la fois une perpetuation et une adaptation A I'ideal suburbain. Les textes sur sept communautes de retraites sont classes sous quatre rubriques: communaute, Ia famille nucleaire, propriete immobiliere, consommation et nature. Les resultats montrent qu'en tant que perpetuation du reve suburbain, les communautes de retraites incarnent les ideaux de propriete immobiliere, de la consommation, de la communaute, de la nature, et de la famille nucleaire. Les conclusions de l'analyse de donnees indiquent que les communautes de retraites s'adaptent au reve suburbain en construisant des notions alterees de propriete immobilere et de famille nucleaire. Une habitation represente des capitaux A utiliser pour acheter de nouvelles demeures au sein de co mmunautes de retraites; alors que la notion de famille nucleaire alteree par des communautes de retraites est multigenerationnelle, comprenant aussi bien les grands-parents que les petits enfants.

Mots-cles: Banlieues; Communautes de retraites; Personnes agees; Analyse de contenu.


This research uses data from primary sources (newspaper articles, advertisements and promotional material) and a methodology consisting of content analysis to examine how retirement communities in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario represent both a continuation of and adaptation to the suburban ideal. The texts from seven retirement community are classified under four headings: community, the nuclear family, home ownership and consumption and nature. As a continuation of the suburban dream, the results show retirement communities embody the ideals of home ownership and consumption, community, nature and the nuclear family. The results of the content analysis show that as an adaptation to the suburban dream retirement communities construct changed notions of home ownership and the nuclear family. A home represents equity to be used to purchase new dwellings in retirement communities; whereas the changed notion of the nuclear family constructed by retirement communities is multi-generational, embracing grandparents an d grandchildren.

Keywords: Suburbs; Retirement Communities: Elderly: Content Analysis.


At the urban scale, changes in the age structure of populations have in the past had a significant impact on the social structure of cities and the intra-urban location of various population and social groups (Bourne 1991). The aging of Canada's population appears to be having a similarly significant impact. The greying of suburbia, for example, is expected to change forever the intra-urban distribution of the elderly population. Once concentrated in the oldest, most central part of the city, the growing number of elderly in the inner suburban ring, or the suburbs constructed immediately after World War II, has produced a concentration of the elderly in an area of the city once solely associated with younger age groups: the suburbs (Hiltner and Smith 1974; Kennedy and DeJong 1977; Gutowski and Feild 1979; Fitzpatrick and Logan 1985; LeBourdais and Beaudry 1988; Golant 1975, 1990).

The aging of the population has also produced a very different form of spatial concentration of the elderly: retirement communities. Ranging in size from just a few to many hundreds of dwellings, retirement communities can take the form of subdivisions, apartment complexes, campus-style residential developments, or entire towns. Whatever their size, retirement communities represent distinct, segregated, spatial concentrations of the elderly population that have evolved in a number of intra-urban and more distant peripheral locations. …

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