Plants and society : an ethnographic approach to the changing role of botanical life in London homes
This research concerns the changing ways in which people and plants live together in London. Using a case study of the domestic garden and a multi-sited ethnography of the plants circulating between certain city spaces, this thesis examines the assemblies of agenda, practice and infrastructure that make particular plant relationships possible. In particular, this thesis analyses plant experience in two ways that, through the course of this research, emerged as particularly important. Firstly, it considers the phenomenon of plant 'liveness.' Here it seeks to elucidate whether or not people in London feel plants to be independently struggling things, the extent to which they want to fully control them, and the perceived benefit that comes from relinquishing some control. Secondly, it considers issues of 'temporality.' Here it seeks to elucidate how different paces of plant behaviour are accommodated by people and how plant temporalities are, more generally, experienced and understood. By taking these two elements and locating them within wider evolving activities, this thesis also reconsiders the changing character of city consumption. This is where its principle contribution lies as, by analysing certain contradictions evident within current approaches, it becomes possible to prompt productive reflection on the future form of the human-plant relationship in London domestic life.