How the Nonhuman World Influences Homeowner Yard Management in the American Residential Macrosystem

Jesse M. Engebretson, Kristen C. Nelson, Laura A. Ogden, Kelli L. Larson, J. Morgan Grove, Sharon J. Hall, Dexter H. Locke, Diane E. Pataki, Rinku Roy Chowdhury, Tara L.E. Trammell, Peter M. Groffman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although the yard is a hybrid social and material landscape, much social science research emphasizes the socio-cultural factors and has mostly neglected the potentially important influence of plants, animals, and the nonliving material world on homeowners’ decision-making. Using interviews across six metropolitan areas in the United States, we investigated the ways residential yards’ nonhuman context is perceived to influence homeowners’ relationships with and planning for their yards. We found that nonhuman dynamics establish boundaries of yard-related decision-making, and that homeowners described their relations with the nonhuman context of the yard as cooperative, oppositional, and negotiable. We call for social science in urban spaces to be more explicitly informed by a consideration of nonhuman agency, and offer an ethical reflection of who or what is considered to have a right to cohabitate in homeowners’ yards.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-356
Number of pages10
JournalHuman Ecology
Volume48
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research is supported by the Macrosystems Biology Program (US NSF) under Grants EF- 1638648, -1638519, -1638639, -1638725, -1638606, and -1638676 and the NIFA McIntire-Stennis 1000343 MIN-42-051. The work arose from research funded by grants from the NSF LTER program for Baltimore (DEB-0423476); Phoenix (BCS-1026865, DEB-0423704, and DEB-9714833); Plum Island, Boston (OCE-1058747 and 1238212); Cedar Creek, Minneapolis?St. Paul (DEB-0620652); and Florida Coastal Everglades, Miami (DBI-0620409). The USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station also provided support. Anonymous reviewers supplied constructive feedback that helped to improve this paper. The findings and opinions reported here do not necessarily reflect those of the funders of this research.

Funding Information:
This research is supported by the Macrosystems Biology Program (US NSF) under Grants EF- 1638648, -1638519, -1638639, -1638725, -1638606, and -1638676 and the NIFA McIntire-Stennis 1000343 MIN-42-051. The work arose from research funded by grants from the NSF LTER program for Baltimore (DEB-0423476); Phoenix (BCS-1026865, DEB-0423704, and DEB-9714833); Plum Island, Boston (OCE-1058747 and 1238212); Cedar Creek, Minneapolis–St. Paul (DEB-0620652); and Florida Coastal Everglades, Miami (DBI-0620409). The USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station also provided support. Anonymous reviewers supplied constructive feedback that helped to improve this paper. The findings and opinions reported here do not necessarily reflect those of the funders of this research.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.

Keywords

  • Actor-network theory United States
  • Interspecies cosmopolitanism
  • Nonhuman agency
  • Residential yards
  • Urban greening

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