Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Date of Award

January 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Krista M. Brumley


Research shows that communities with a broadly embraced regional identity provide residents with a more gratifying social experience. A regional identity often emerges when residents exhibit a sense of belonging and attachment to their community. Detroit provides an interesting canvas to explore these concepts given a long history of tension between the city of Detroit and its suburbs. Despite these challenges, anecdotal evidence of suburban solidarity with the city exists. Using in-depth interviews with long-time residents of suburban Detroit, I explore the meaning of being a "Detroiter." Why are some suburbanites eager - and others reluctant - to embrace a Detroiter identity? I found that a regional identity embraced by residents of Suburban Detroit is weak, ambiguous, and, in a few cases, non-existent. Those who lack attachment to the region struggle to articulate any type of cultural or experiential characteristic that binds them with their neighbors. Those who do exhibit attachment to the region, do so with little recognition of the institutional and systemic racism that has plagued the community, particularly as it relates to the region's predominately black central city.

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Sociology Commons