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Researching towards a critically posthumanist future: on the political “doing” of critical research for companion animal liberation

Zoei Sutton (College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 31 March 2020

Issue publication date: 21 May 2021

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to make a case for the political use of methods to shape posthumanist futures that are for animals. It makes this case by drawing on findings from qualitative research on the lived experience of navigating human–pet relationships.

Design/methodology/approach

The argument in this paper draws on qualitative data from interviews and observations with human participants and “their” companion animals to demonstrate that centring animals in research highlights new data and encourages participants to challenge anthropocentric narratives of pet relationships.

Findings

The findings of this project indicate that using animal-inclusive research methods is effective in centring non-human animals in discussions and providing new insights into human–animal relations that can inform and move towards critical posthumanist futures.

Research limitations/implications

If the central argument that methods play an important role in shaping social worlds is accepted then human–animal studies scholars may need to think more carefully about how they design, conduct and frame research with non-human animals.

Practical implications

If the argument for centring companion animals in research is taken seriously, then those working with humans and companion animals in the community might significantly alter their methods to more meaningfully engage with non-human animals' experiences.

Originality/value

Current research has concerned itself with the challenge of how to understand animals' experiences through research. There has been little consideration of how multi-species research reflects and shapes social worlds and how methods might be considered a fruitful site of transforming relations and pursuing posthumanist futures.

Keywords

Citation

Sutton, Z. (2021), "Researching towards a critically posthumanist future: on the political “doing” of critical research for companion animal liberation", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 41 No. 3/4, pp. 376-390. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSSP-01-2020-0015

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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