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Lawn People: How Grasses, Weeds, and Chemicals Make Us Who We Are [Paperback]

Paul Robbins
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: CDN$ 30.74 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

June 28 2007
For some people, their lawn is a source of pride, and for others, caring for their lawn is a chore. Yet for an increasing number of people, turf care is a cause of ecological anxiety. In Lawn People, author Paul Robbins, asks, "How did the needs of the grass come to be my own?" In his goal to get a clearer picture of why people and grasses do what they do, Robbins interviews homeowners about their lawns, and uses national surveys, analysis from aerial photographs, and economic data to determine what people really feel about-and how they treat-their lawns.

Lawn People places the lawn in its ecological, economic, and social context. Robbins considers the attention we pay our turfgrass-the chemicals we use to grow lawns, the hazards of turf care to our urban ecology, and its potential impact on water quality and household health. He also shows how the ecology of cities creates certain kinds of citizens, deftly contrasting man's control of the lawn with the lawn's control of man.

Lawn People provides an intriguing examination of nature's influence on landscape management and on the ecosystem.

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Lawn People: How Grasses, Weeds, and Chemicals Make Us Who We Are + Political Ecology: A Critical Introduction
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Lawn People is a refreshing and overdue reminder that ecology and non-human life are critical elements and agents influencing how we structure our daily lives, our personal economies, tastes, and social relations with one another." Alec Brownlow, DePaul University "This book on the influence of lawn cultivation in the United States might justly be subtitled 'the tyranny of lawns.' It dwells on the influence of lawn care on American society, describing how a large segment of the population appears driven to create the 'perfect' lawn. This perfection affects decisions that ultimately influence the economy, politics, and the environment. Author Paul Robbins examines the subject in a very searching text that stresses 'the tension between our many contradictory desires.'" Chicago Botanic Garden "How can we rethink American lawns? And in doing so, how might we begin to remake ourselves? These are the political questions motivating Paul Robbins's concise and empirically rich Lawn People...Conceptually, Robbins applies the familiar tools of political ecology to the fresh topic of the suburban middle classes...This book clearly demonstrates that new conceptual approaches using metaphors of networks, associations, and relations can be strongly critical and libratory." Environment and Planning A "An insightful study of how lawns work and worthwhile reading for anyone interested in past and present landscapes." H-Net "This interesting, insightful, and well-written volume provides a look into the complex ecological, economic, political, and sociological relationships of homeowners, their communities, the lawn care industry, pesticide and fertilizer manufacturers, and turf grasses to exhibit the ecological Gordian knot of a landscape phenomenon that insists on battling the natural processes of biodiversity and succession. Robbins's work strives to explain why so much US land and why so many people fall victim and are enslaved by an ostensibly powerless, weak, and vulnerable organism (grass), and what their relationship says about Americans and their fundamental relationship with nature. Summing Up: Highly Recommended." Choice "Robbins offers a clever exploration of the political ecology and actor network theory, and a sharp insight into the cynicism of capitalism in the form of the chemical industry. That is a lot for a slim, nicely illustrated and well-written book to achieve, but it does it with style and intelligence... The book is readable and wide-ranging in its arguments...its analysis is relevant wherever suburban values extend... This book should be widely read and discussed." Environmental Conservation "Robbins illuminates this relation of [lawn and man] mutual production brilliantly through detailed historical, ethnographic, and survey research. Robbins dispels many myths about lawns held in both popular and scholarly circles... Lawn People is first-rate scholarship, engaging, accessible, theoretically rich, and well grounded. It has had a powerful effect on my thinking about society-environment interfaces and the future direction of the social sciences on this topic."- The American Journal of Sociology, January 2009 "Robbins' Lawn People is analytical in every sense, using the theoretical and methodological approaches of the social sciences to find concrete explanations for how people choose to engage in the culture of the lawn... [It is] essential if you want to understand the American lawn in all of its complexity. Read [it] --you'll still have time to cut the grass." The Geographical Review, Volume 98 issue 4

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3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected May 1 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was expecting a rebuke of the manicured lawn culture and a blueprint for alternative landscape management but clearly this was not the authors intent. Rather this is a somewhat scholarly treatise on the history of lawn culture from it's earliest days and the development of turf management science. I think the target audience here is not the ecologically concerned layperson, but rather agronomy students and people with an interest in urban planning and the history of turf management. There is little in the way of practical advice here regarding healthy alternatives to lawn monocultures. If one is looking for an historical perspective on this topic from someone who is clearly very knowledgeable in this field, perhaps this is the book to get. But if you want to get practical information on alternative lawn management strategies, I would look elsewhere.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars succinct and provocative Nov. 9 2008
By ingonyama - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an accessible but theoretically sophisticated study of American lawns, and the reasons why people who are anxious about the effects of lawn chemicals on themselves, their children and their pets (including a woman who put booties on her dog when its paws bled after it walked on a chemically-treated lawn, rather than stopping the chemical treatment!) continue to use lawn chemicals and obsess over having a monocultured turfgrass lawn. Robbins writes with a minimum of jargon and name-dropping -- any undergraduate could easily follow his arguments without much difficulty -- but also quietly engages with actor-network theory, Foucauldian and Gramscian notions of power, hegemony and subject formation, as well as putting ecology into political ecology. It's a book which could sit equally well on an undergraduate or graduate syllabus, which speaks both to its clarity and the sophistication of its analysis. Highly recommended.
4.0 out of 5 stars can't loan on kindle... July 4 2014
By lg - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I think this book is great. Although, I wanted my mom to read it, but this book doesn't allow loaning on kindle, so I recommend buying a paper back.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting book Feb. 10 2013
By William F. Blake - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book and thought it would be totally lame. Turns out it's actually really interesting. The social aspects that go into a lawn culture extend far outside the boundaries of the green grass and are extremely intriguing. Definitely worth a read.
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