This paper is based on an empirical case study of four suburbs in the Dublin city hinterland. It is argued that pastoral ideology plays an active role in constituting these new suburbs and helps to inculcate a sense of place. This sense of place in turn helps to cement social embeddedness which acts as a bulwark against isolation and alienation. Pastoral ideology is invoked by suburbanites even when the pastoral dimension of the suburb is under threat or has disappeared. The village or 'main street' acts as an important anchor for new suburban residents as does the surrounding 'rural' landscape and their own collective memories. However, the study reveals a gap between how some newer suburbs are represented and imagined, and how they are experienced in everyday life. This raises questions about the long-term viability of suburbs that lack a sense of place. Â© 2010 Urban Studies Journal Limited.