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Lawn People


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Table of Contents

Introduction Chapter 1 : Explaining Lawn People " A Profile of Lawn People " Interrogating Assumptions in Apolitical Economy " The Mutual Tyrannies of Urban Political Ecology Chapter 2 : Is the Lawn an Expression of American Culture? " The Manor House Tradition: Labor, Land and Grass " Ecological Imperialism and American Turf " The American Law Tradition " Democratic Landscape? The Spread of the Modern Lawn " Lawn Culture for Lawn Subjects Chapter 3 : Does the Lawn Necessarily Require Inputs? " What is Turfgrass and How Does it Grow? " Turfgrass Structure and Growth " Why Lawns Need So Much Care? " The Lawn's needs become those of the Turfgrass Subject Chapter 4 : Are Lawn Inputs a Hazzard? " The Dawn and Maturing of Lawn Chemistry " The Contemporary Chemical Suite " Lawn Risks Defy Regulation Chapter 5 : Does the Industry Meet or Produce Demand? " Demand or Supply? " The Lawn Commodity Chain " Producers: Searching for Buyers " Applicators: Tending the Weed Business Chapter 6 : Do Lawn People Choose Lawns? " Chemical Communities " The Lawns of Kingberry Court " Risk Citizens, Contradiction Reconcilers, Networked Actors Chapter 7 : Can Lawn People Choose Alternatives? " Landscape Alternatives " Elusiveness of Alternatives " Are Lawn Alternatives really Alternative? Chapter 8 : Becoming Turfgrass Subjects " Anxiety, Objects, Subjects and Political Economy " Epilogue: Rescuing the Environment from Determinism Appendix A: Suggestion and Sources for Lawn Alternatives " Some General Rules " Resources and Allies Appendix B: Data Development and Analysis " The National Homeowner Survey " The Applicator Survey " The Kingberry Court Interviews " The Land Cover Survey " Current Published Resources

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A comprehensive survey of the American lawn and how caring for it impacts people's lives

About the Author

Paul Robbins is Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Regional Development at the University of Arizona. He is the author of Political Ecology: A Critical Introduction.


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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