The Return of Organisation Man: Commuter Narratives and Suburban Critique

Melissa Gregg


This article considers the significance of suburban commuter imagery in a selection of screen visions of mid-century modernity. A number of examples, including Mad Men, and the screen adaptations of The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit (1956) and Revolutionary Road (2008), will be shown to echo key themes, symbols and scenes in their depictions of suburbia and the cultural impact of the corporation. Taken together, these narratives indicate the resilience of the “Organization Man” (Whyte 1956) as a figure marking the tension between individualism and conformity. It is this tension that the archetypal businessman’s uniform continues to symbolise in popular culture, even if, as this paper will argue, it is no longer the most fitting expression available.


modernity; commuter narrative; suburbia; Man in the Grey Flannel Suit

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