Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
I take the suburban community of Levittown, Pennsylvania, as my field of study. I use primary documents to tell the history of this community, a story filtered through a sociological perspective, one that is firmly grounded in the sociology of C. Wright Mills. "All sociology worth the name," argued Mills, "is historical sociology." An important voice in this story is that of the original Levittown resident--those individuals still living in their homes after 50 years.
As a sociologist, my task is to uncover and make real the interrelationships between biography (the individual resident) and history (the community of Levittown and the wider social, political and economic context within which it is a part). I use historical events such as the arrival of Levittown's first black family, the gas riots of 1979 and the decline of the local steel industry, for example, as markers of social change, plotting the evolution of this community through time. As history and culture evolve, so, too, does the community of Levittown. This project frames the story of Levittown as an evolutionary one, a story that not only has been influenced by, but has also responded to, the currents of a larger national and international history. Yet how do changes in history affect the lives of individuals? How do individual residents, members of a community, understand the social climate within which they live? These are the questions that guide this project.
Kimmel, Chad M., "Levittown, Pennsylvania: A Sociological History" (2004). Dissertations. 1240.