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Article
Publication date: 31 March 2020

Zoei Sutton

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…

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.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 41 no. 3/4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

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Article
Publication date: 29 April 2020

Melissa Laing

The purpose of this paper is twofold. First, it proposes a critical posthumanist orientation to social work as an approach to address the impediments to care experienced…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is twofold. First, it proposes a critical posthumanist orientation to social work as an approach to address the impediments to care experienced by interspecies families. Secondly, it challenges the anthropocentric assumptions that underpin this exclusion of nonhuman family members in human services disciplines such as social work.

Design/methodology/approach

This article presents primary data from a qualitative study into social work and other human services practice in the family violence and homelessness sectors in the state of Victoria, Australia.

Findings

Social workers undertook companion animal-inclusive practice to counter vulnerability to interspecies families caused by gender- and species-based violence, and by homelessness. Gender- and species-based violence was exacerbated by a lack of refuge options, and contributed to women considering their companion animals to be their children. The vulnerability that homelessness brought upon interspecies families was amplified by stigma within and external to social work and related professions, and the impediment that experiences of homelessness had on being able to provide care for their nonhuman family members. These factors shaped practice with interspecies families. Scope for future practice was also identified.

Research limitations/implications

The research findings can be used to inform policy change that includes consideration of nonhuman family members, as well as critical posthuman program design in social work education.

Originality/value

Companion animal-inclusive practice with interspecies families in social work is an under researched area, and there is little empirical data available on the nature of this work in Australia. This paper addresses this gap by centring social workers' own accounts of practice. This paper has scope to contribute to education in social work and other welfare fields, with the potential to empower students to challenge assumptions about social work being solely focused on human-centred concerns.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 41 no. 3/4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 16 December 2019

Erika Cudworth

Focusing on everyday lives and relationships within the household, the purpose of this paper is to suggest that the quality of “home” is altered by the presence of animal

Abstract

Purpose

Focusing on everyday lives and relationships within the household, the purpose of this paper is to suggest that the quality of “home” is altered by the presence of animal companions. Conceptions of home as a haven have been critiqued on grounds of the elision of power relations, yet home has also been understood as a place of resistance to, and refuge from, an exploitative and exclusionary public world. Acknowledging differentiated relations of power and understanding homemaking as a process, this paper investigates the playing out of species relations within home space.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper draws on empirical material from a study of companion species in households and public spaces, deploying ethnographic material gained through extended observation and semi-structured and often mobile interviews with dog “owners” in urban and rural contexts in the UK.

Findings

Dogs transform domestic space through muddying human lives. This process is twofold. First, life in posthumanist households problematizes boundaries between humans and other creatures in terms of relationships, behaviour and use of space. Second, muddied living involves breaching and maintaining domestic order. Muddied living is characterised by tension, power and compromise. Homes are posthuman not just by including non-human animals, but through elements of dog agency in how home is made.

Originality/value

Little has been written of “home” within sociology, despite “home” capturing a range of social practice. Sociologists examining human–animal companion relations have not considered how relations play out in home space. This paper investigates home as a shared space of multispecies interaction, making the case for a posthuman sociology of home.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 41 no. 3/4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

Keywords

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Book part
Publication date: 30 July 2020

Kass Gibson

To outline the multiple ways in which animals are inserted into sporting practices, outline historical and contemporary approaches to studying human–animal sporting…

Abstract

To outline the multiple ways in which animals are inserted into sporting practices, outline historical and contemporary approaches to studying human–animal sporting practices, and advocate for the centering of sociological problems in human–animal research in sporting contexts and cultures and for considering such problems in relation to environmental issues.

In the first part of the chapter, conceptual differentiation of animals in the animal–sport complex is presented. Subsequently, studies of interspecies sport are reviewed with reference to the “animal turn” in the literature. In the second part, a critique is presented relating to: (1) the privileging of companion animals, especially dogs and horses, which overlooks the multiple ways animals are integrated into (multispecies) sport; (2) micro-sociological and insider ethnographies of companionship displacing of sociological problems in favor of relationship perspectives; and (3) the environment as absent from analysis. The conclusion offers implications for understanding multispecies sport and the environment.

I chart a general shift in emphasis and focus from animals as an “absent presence” in pursuit of sociological knowledge toward a clearly defined focus on interspecies sport as a field of research characterized by investigations of relationships with companion animals through the “animal turn.”

The focus on companion species means other animals (i.e., noncompanions) are understudied, big picture sociological questions are often sidelined, environmental concerns marginalized, and sociological understanding of the environment more generally is either ignored or reduced to a conduit of human–animal interactions.

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Article
Publication date: 1 September 2005

Elizabeth Ormerod

Abstract

Details

Working with Older People, vol. 9 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1366-3666

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Article
Publication date: 9 December 2011

Randall Smith, Julia Johnson and Sheena Rolph

The purpose of this paper is to examine the history of pet ownership and its relationship to wellbeing in later life. In particular, the paper addresses the issue of pet…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the history of pet ownership and its relationship to wellbeing in later life. In particular, the paper addresses the issue of pet ownership in communal residential settings for older people both now and in the past, comparing attitudes, policies, and practices in regard to pets in the late 1950s with the early years of the twenty‐first century.

Design/methodology/approach

Following a review of the research literature on older people and companion animals, the paper draws on new data derived from recent research conducted by the authors. It compares archived material on the residential homes for older people that Peter Townsend visited in the late 1950s as part of his classic study, The Last Refuge (1962), with findings from revisiting a sample of these homes 50 years later. The authors employed the same methods as Townsend (observation together with interviews with managers and residents).

Findings

The historical dimension of the research reveals ambivalence both in the past and in present times in respect of residents' pets in care homes. Top‐down controlling regimes in the past have been replaced by concerns about health and safety and the need to strike a balance between rights, risks, and responsibilities. The variations in current policy and practice in England and Wales seem to reflect the subjective views and experiences of care home managers and proprietors. The lesson seems to be that care home owners should be expected to have an explicit policy in regard to the keeping of companion animals, but one that is not dictated by law.

Originality/value

The longitudinal data drawn on in this paper add a new perspective to research on older people and pets in care homes.

Details

Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, vol. 12 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1471-7794

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 9 November 2020

Autumn Edwards, Chad Edwards, Bryan Abendschein, Juliana Espinosa, Jonathan Scherger and Patricia Vander Meer

The purpose of this paper is to interrogate the relationship between self-reported levels of acute stress, perceived social support and interactions with robot animals in…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to interrogate the relationship between self-reported levels of acute stress, perceived social support and interactions with robot animals in an academic library. The authors hypothesized that (1) participants would report lower stress and higher positive affect after their interaction with a robot support animal and (2) perceived supportiveness of the robot support animal would positively predict the amount of stress reduction the participants reported.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors hosted a robot petting zoo in the main library at a mid-sized Midwestern university during finals week. Participants were asked to rate their stress level prior to interacting with the robot pets (T1) and then after their interaction they were asked about their current stress level and the perceived supportiveness of the robot animal (T2). Data were analyzed using paired samples t-tests for the pretest and post-test scores.

Findings

The results showed a significant decrease in acute stress between T1 to T2, as well as a significant increase in happiness and relaxation. Participants reported feeling less bored and less tired after their interactions with the robot support animals. The findings also reveal that the degree to which individuals experienced a reduction in stress was influenced by their perceptions of the robot animal's supportiveness. Libraries could consider using robot pet therapy.

Originality/value

This study reveals the benefit of robot support animals to reduce stress and increase happiness of those experiencing acute stress in a library setting. The authors also introduce the concept of socially supportive contact as a type of unidirectional social support.

Details

Library Hi Tech, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0737-8831

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Book part
Publication date: 27 June 2019

Racheal Harris

Abstract

Details

Skin, Meaning, and Symbolism in Pet Memorials
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78756-422-0

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Book part
Publication date: 28 November 2016

Henna Syrjälä, Minna-Maarit Jaskari and Hanna Leipämaa-Leskinen

The current study sheds light on non-human object agency by drawing illustrative examples from a case of horse/horsemeat, and thereby captures the ways in which living and…

Abstract

Purpose

The current study sheds light on non-human object agency by drawing illustrative examples from a case of horse/horsemeat, and thereby captures the ways in which living and non-living animal entities have shifting effects and/or intentions in relation to human entities within heterogeneous networks of cultural resources and practices.

Methodology/approach

Leaning on the post-human approach, the case of horse/horsemeat provides an illustrative empirical entry point into exploring how by looking through the lenses of object agency one can deconstruct the prevailing anthropomorphism-based dualistic views of living and non-living domestic animals as subjects or objects.

Findings

The paper argues that by contemplating both the living horse and non-living horsemeat as ontologically shifting and co-constructive entities in relation to human subjects, we are able to elaborate the contradictions and convergences of object agency that appear in living and/or non-living co-consuming units.

Social implications

The study showcases important aspects of animal welfare, addressing the effects of shifting from a human-centred perspective to a post-human view on equality between various kinds of entities.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to the discussions of non-human object agency, addressing the issue from the perspective of an animal entity, which enables participating in deconstructing dualisms such as subject and object as well as living and non-living. In particular, it highlights how in the case of an animal entity, agency may emerge in terms of effects and (some capacity of) intentions both within living and non-living entities.

Details

Consumer Culture Theory
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78635-495-2

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Article
Publication date: 1 December 2005

Elizabeth Ormerod

Abstract

Details

Working with Older People, vol. 9 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1366-3666

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