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Liv, lust och mening: om krukväxters kulturella betydelser
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Culture and Media.
2007 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This study is about the way people describe thoughts and feelings in connection with indoor plants. Adopting a broader perspective it could be said that it is a study of the relation between people and their material surroundings. The objective is to analyse how relations to things, in this case potted plants, affect the way people look at their place, life and own identity. In this respect indoor plants are a challenging basis for such a study. They belong to those common things that may seem to be far away from what really matters. Having no necessary and instrumental purpose they are in principle open to ascription of almost any kind. In fact the rationale for having them is often the mere feeling that they ought to be there.

And today indoor plants are really a very obvious part of Swedish homes. This was not always so but as the 20th century went on they were to be found in most homes. On average one can expect to see about thirty different plants when entering a typical Swedish home. In order to investigate the impact of these on people’s lives I use a variety of different sources ranging from archives to interviews.

The overall structure of discourses about pot plants tend to overlap, to some extent regardless of time and place. The way feelings concerning indoor plants were described in the beginning of the last century coincides with how people today express their opinions when thinking of pot plants in their own homes. Further on this is echoed more publicly in connection with the marketing of flowers. The kind of meaning and themes associated with indoor plants thus appear natural.

But in spite of this there is a strong personal component in the actual content of each individual story and this makes them unique. This also allows for a possibility to express individuality within a common framework. In this way pot plants make a contribution to the process of shaping individuals. The importance of this is even more obvious as people in describing their indoor plants simultaneously are describing their own lives in a kaleidoscopic way. In a seemingly effortless way a continuous and unifying self seems be present. Even though the cultural study of pot plants might be justified in itself these implications of an existential perspective makes it even more exciting.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Carlsson Bokförlag , 2007. , 187 p.
Etnologiska skrifter, ISSN 1103-6516 ; 40
Keyword [en]
discourse, everyday life, life-trajectory, personal self, possessions, existential meaning, gender, home, identity, imagined relations, indoor plants
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-1062ISBN: 978-91-7331-057-4OAI: diva2:140082
Public defence
2007-04-20, Hörsal F, Humanisthuset, Umeå, 13:15
Available from: 2007-03-29 Created: 2007-03-29Bibliographically approved

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