Cover: Morel Tales: The Culture of Mushrooming, from Harvard University PressCover: Morel Tales in HARDCOVER

Morel Tales

The Culture of Mushrooming

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$73.00 • £63.95 • €66.95

ISBN 9780674089358

Publication Date: 04/30/1998


336 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches


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If traipsing about in the woods looking for fungi is your idea of a great time, then Gary Alan Fine’s Morel Tales: The Culture of Mushrooming is the book for you… Dr. Fine presents the experiences and perspectives of several mycolophiles in their own words. From encounters with wild animals to tales of valuable mushroom findings along with some blunders, these pages provide insights into the popularity of the mushrooming pastime… I thoroughly enjoyed Morel Tales and can recommend it to both amateur and professional mycologists.—Stephen S. Daggett, American Biology Teacher

This book is first and foremost an eminently readable ethnography about the everyday lives of hobbyist mushroomers, the social world framing these lives, and the mentality of these enthusiasts as it springs from their leisure passion… [T]his study constitutes a rare contribution to the sociology of science, a field where ethnographic research is rare and the role of amateurs consistently ignored.—Robert A. Stebbins, Canadian Journal of Sociology

As with the best of good sociology, we are quickly persuaded [in Morel Tales] that by studying seemingly esoteric behavior, mushroom hunting, we can learn about basic social processes. Examining the odd can lead to confrontation with what is central to human experience… Fine argues and illustrates with rich data that there is no nature without culture and no culture without particular social groups acting within concrete situations… A well-crafted sociological study, Morel Tales weaves together a well-developed grounded theory with interesting ethnographic description… Next time someone asks me ‘What’s so special about the way sociologists approach the world? What do sociologists have to offer?’ I will recommend Morel Tales.—Robert Bogdan, Contemporary Sociology

A delightful ethnographic analysis of the culture of field mycologists (mushroomers) as a paradigm of the customs of naturalists in general (birdwatchers, ramblers, botany clubs, etc.)… This book is strongly recommended to all introspective naturalists, particularly field mycologists and their professional colleagues, and should be a priority acquisition for any library…with a natural history collection.—Royall T. Moore, Society for General Microbiology Quarterly [UK]

A basketful of sociological insight. Fine’s compelling foray into the world of mushrooming shows us that there is no nature without culture and no culture without social organization. We are all mushroom hunters, searching the woods for morals to take home, searching for meaning in the wild. Fine aptly terms this process ‘naturework’ and demonstrates that the meanings we find depend on the socially organized meanings we bring with us. An important contribution to understanding the human nature of nature.—Michael Mayerfeld Bell, Iowa State University

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