Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences: Issue on Suburban Inequality in the United States

By PAA Web posted 09-22-2020 14:38


The stereotypical conception of the suburbs is one of cookie cutter single-family homes, manicured lawns, and residents who commute to the nearest city, but this image captures only a small portion of suburban life today. Scholars and policy makers have long explored the challenges faced by city residents and governments and the role that cities play in shaping contemporary American society, but similar issues in the suburbs have been less well studied. Recent changes in who lives in suburbs, particularly their racial and ethnic diversification and the suburbanization of poverty, have focused attention on suburbs. Still, the topic demands much more exploration, especially related to processes of inequality. To take two timely examples, the emergence of COVID-19 and the ongoing extrajudicial killing of Black citizens are highly influenced by suburban place and space. COVID-19 spread from suburban New York on to New York City. The resulting coordinated efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 and to manage its impact relied heavily on economic and racial segregation. The Black Lives Matter movement first emerged following the extrajudicial killing of multiple unarmed Black people in the suburbs. Since 2014, an increasing share of these killings occur in suburbs, while such killings in the city have continued to fall. The evolution of these social problems remains unclear, but it is clear that social scientists are in a unique position to examine inequality in suburban areas and to consider what can be done to address them. In this volume, we focus on suburban inequality related to race and ethnicity, immigration, social class, and other forms of difference, with cross-cutting themes drawing on everyday experiences and outcomes in the salient societal domains of education, political economy, housing and community, and health.

This issue of RSF will bring together scholars who study diverse aspects of suburban inequality, to develop a deeper understanding of how suburban inequality is both distinct from and similar to urban inequality. In doing so, we hope to bring scattered literatures together to assert the contemporary relevance of suburban inequality, and thereby lay a foundation for the emerging field of research on suburban inequality. We aim to avoid the pitfalls of previous scholarship on urban inequality, which has been critiqued for assuming homogeneity and developing theories of universal urban problems despite diversity in urban environments. Instead, we seek to develop a greater understanding of the diverse array of suburban arrangements and how inequalities functions within and between them. We are interested in inequality in suburban contexts not only as it shapes experiences of disadvantage, but also as it shapes privilege and advantage.

Please click here for a full description of the topics covered in this call for articles.

Anticipated Timeline

Prospective contributors should submit a CV and an abstract (up to two pages in length, single or double spaced) of their study along with up to two pages of supporting material (e.g., tables, figures, pictures, etc.) no later than 5 PM EST on December 7, 2020 to:

NOTE that if you wish to submit an abstract and do not yet have an account with us, it can take up to 48 hours to get credentials, so please start your application at least two days before the deadline. All submissions must be original work that has not been previously published in part or in full. Only abstracts submitted to

will be considered. Each paper will receive a $1,000 honorarium when the issue is published. All questions regarding this issue should be directed to Suzanne Nichols, Director of Publications, at and not to the email addresses of the editors of the issue.

A conference will take place at the Russell Sage Foundation in New York City on November 5, 2021. The selected contributors will gather for a one-day workshop to present draft papers (due a month prior to the conference on 10/1/21) and receive feedback from the other contributors and editors. Travel costs, food, and lodging for one author per paper will be covered by the foundation. Papers will be circulated before the conference. After the conference, the authors will submit their revised drafts by 1/13/22. The papers will then be sent out to three additional scholars for formal peer review. Having received feedback from reviewers and the RSF board, authors will revise their papers by 7/11/22. The full and final issue will be published in the spring of 2023. Papers will be published open access on the RSF website as well as in several digital repositories, including JSTOR and UPCC/Muse.

Please click here for a full description of the topics covered in this call for articles.