Tag Archives: suburbia

“The Suburbs” Deconstructed | An Interview with Christopher Niedt

I’ve made a couple great discoveries this week. First, there is the National Center for Suburban Studies (NCSS). This group is dedicated to the study of Suburban issues. Perfect!

Second, in conjunction with the NCSS is its Academic Director Christopher Niedt. I hope to find out more about his work. Listen to this radio interview with Niedt. It is about the album “The Suburbs” by Arcade Fire. This is where pop culture meets academia.

Chapter One | The Question

What do suburbia and spirituality have in common? This sounds like the set-up for a bad joke. The term suburbia often conjures up caricatured images of plastic, white, middle-class Americans driving gas-guzzling Suburban Utility Vehicles past white picket fences into cavernous garages that swallow them up into isolated fortresses behind automatic garage doors. The term spirituality often conjures up equally caricatured images of bald-headed, robed monks sitting in the lotus position, precariously perched on the precipice of a majestic mountain peak. These two images could not be further apart in how they relate. This study will explore the intersection of these two worlds. Further, it will explore how the specific doctrine of the Trinity might weave a connective thread between these things. The questions and conversations pursued in this study will be framed within the larger conversation that many call the missional church. read more

Chapter Two | Theoretical Framework and Literature Review

Key theoretical lenses for social science research

The scope of this research has an interdisciplinary span. It is deeply theological, yet it draws from a broader theoretical framework in two academic fields. The first is the field of Adult Learning Theory. The second is the field of sociology and urban studies with a special focus on suburban studies.

Key texts and authors

Epistemological Considerations

It is important to preface a discussion of adult learning theory by situating the discussion within an epistemological framework. This research and literature review is not intended to expound upon philosophical hermeneutics, but it is important to note that the research and researcher is situated within a post-positivist constructivist framework.[1] Two key philosophers will be germane to the framing of this conversation. The first is Jürgen Habermas and The Theory of Communicative Action[2]. This is broadly known as Critical Social Theory. Gary Simpson helps to understand Habermas’ work in his book Critical Social Theory.[3] The second philosopher is Hans-Georg Gadamer in his work Truth and Method,[4] where he discusses the fusion of horizons and linguisticality. This is important to note because this theoretical frame creates the basis for using Participatory Action Research as the primary research methodology for this project.  The members of the congregations to be studied will work in conjunction with the researcher to communicatively construct new ideas and practices that will shape the research itself. read more