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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: 12 October 2015

Harry Wels

Now that the human-animal distinction is increasingly critiqued from various disciplinary perspectives, to the point where some suggest even letting go of the distinction…

Abstract

Purpose

Now that the human-animal distinction is increasingly critiqued from various disciplinary perspectives, to the point where some suggest even letting go of the distinction completely, the purpose of this paper is to argue that organizational ethnography should start to explore in more detail what this means for organizational ethnographic research, theory and analysis to include non-human animals in it.

Design/methodology/approach

Revisiting the author’s earlier organizational ethnographic work in Zimbabwe on a private wildlife conservancy, an organization that was specifically set up for and around wildlife. At the same time these non-human animals were not taken into account methodologically nor featured at all in the empirical material or in the analysis. What could it mean for the analysis and conclusions if non-human animals would have been part of the equation?

Findings

Since we live in a world shared between human and non-human animals, this also is true for the organizational lives. As scientific research increasingly shows that the distinction between human and non-human animals is more in degree than in kind it is interesting to note that nevertheless non-human animals usually produce deafening “silences” in organizational ethnographic work. Revisiting the author’s earlier organizational ethnographic work in this context the author shows how taking non-human animals on board of the analysis radically alters the outcomes of the research.

Research limitations/implications

This paper reports on revisiting the author’s earlier ethnographic research, without actually doing the research itself again. In that sense it is a hypothetical study.

Practical implications

Organizational ethnography might have to rethink what it would mean in terms of fieldwork methodologies if it would allow non-human animals as actual agentic stakeholders in the research and analysis. It would at least need to also think in terms of “research methodologies without words” as non-human animals cannot be interviewed.

Social implications

The paper is based on a social justice perspective on human-animal relations. It tries to contribute to an intellectual argument to take non-human animals more seriously as “co-citizens” in the (organizational) life world. This may have wide ranging implications for the life styles, ranging from the types of food we eat, to liquids we drink, to the ways we think about the human superiority in this world.

Originality/value

A highly self-reflexive account of the author’s earlier organizational ethnographic work, showing what it means theoretically if we take non-human animals seriously in organizational ethnographic research and analysis. At the same time it shows quite painfully organizational ethnography’s speciecist approach to research methodologies and processes of organizing.

Details

Journal of Organizational Ethnography, vol. 4 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-6749

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Article
Publication date: 11 April 2016

Erika Cudworth

The purpose of this paper is to map the field of sociological animal studies through some examples of critical and mainstream approaches and considers their relation to…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to map the field of sociological animal studies through some examples of critical and mainstream approaches and considers their relation to advocacy. It makes the argument that while all these initiatives have made important contributions to the project of “animalising sociology” and suggest a need for change in species relations, the link between analysis and political strategy is uncertain.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper develops its argument by using secondary sources, reviewing sociological positions and offering illustrations of possible interventions.

Findings

Sociological interventions in the field of animal studies have been informed by critical perspectives, such as feminism and Marxism, or taken less critical routes deploying actor-network theory and symbolic interactionism. Whilst those working in critical traditions may appear to have a more certain political agenda, an analysis of “how things are” does not always lead to a clear position on “what is to be done” in terms of social movement agendas or policy intervention. In addition, concepts deployed in advocacy such as “liberation”, “quality of life” or “care” are problematic when applied beyond the human. Despite this, there are possibilities for coalition and solidarity around certain claims for change.

Research limitations/implications

If the central argument of the paper were taken seriously by general sociologists, then sociology may be more open to “animal studies”. In implications for exisitng sociological animal studies scholarship is to trouble some of the certainties around advocacy.

Practical implications

If the central argument of the paper were taken seriously by advocacy groups, then the hiatus between “welfarism” and “liberation” might be overcome.

Originality/value

There have been recent attempts to map the field of scholarship in animal studies, but surprisingly little consideration of how different emergent positions inform questions of advocacy and the possibilities for political intervention.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 36 no. 3/4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

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Book part
Publication date: 3 November 2014

Nik Taylor and Lindsay Hamilton

The last few decades have seen the rise of a new field of inquiry – human–animal studies (HAS). As a rich, theoretically and disciplinarily diverse field, HAS shines a…

Abstract

Purpose

The last few decades have seen the rise of a new field of inquiry – human–animal studies (HAS). As a rich, theoretically and disciplinarily diverse field, HAS shines a light on the various relations that humans have with other animals across time, space and culture. While still a small, but rapidly growing field, HAS has supported the development of multiple theoretical and conceptual initiatives which have aimed to capture the rich diversity of human–animal interactions. Yet the methodologies for doing this have not kept pace with the ambitions of such projects. In this chapter, we seek to shed light on this particular issue.

Design/methodology/approach

We consider the difficulties of researching other-than-human beings by asking what might happen if methods incorporated true inter-disciplinarity, for instance if social scientists were able to work with natural scientists on multi-species ethnographies. The lack of established methodology (and the lack of cross disciplinary research between the natural and social sciences) is one of the main problems that we consider here. It is an issue complicated immensely by the ‘otherness’ of animals – the vast differences in the ways that we (humans) and they (animals) see the world, communicate and behave. This chapter provides the opportunity for us to consider how we can take account of (if not resolve) these differences to arrive at meaningful research data, to better understand the contemporary world by embarking upon more precise investigations of our relationships with animals.

Findings

Drawing upon a selection of examples from contemporary research of human–animal interactions, both ethnographic and scientific, we shed light on some new possibilities for multi-species research. We suggest that this can be done best by considering and applying a diversity of theoretical frameworks which deal explicitly with the constitution of the social environment.

Originality/value

Our methodological exploration offers the reader insight into new ways of working within the template of human animal studies by drawing upon a range of useful theories such as post-structuralism and actor network theory (ANT) (for example, Callon, 1986; Hamilton & Taylor, 2013; Latour, 2005; Law, Ruppert, & Savage, 2011) and post-humanist perspectives (for example, Anderson, 2014; Haraway, 2003; Wolfe, 2010). Our contribution to this literature is distinctive because rather than remaining at the philosophical level, we suggest how the human politics of method might be navigated practically to the benefit of multiple species.

Details

Big Data? Qualitative Approaches to Digital Research
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-050-6

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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: 12 January 2021

Karin Gunnarsson Dinker

This paper addresses two main questions: What is taught about animal ethics in primary school and how. Are these messages challenged by the students and, in that case, how…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper addresses two main questions: What is taught about animal ethics in primary school and how. Are these messages challenged by the students and, in that case, how and why? This is discussed in the light of Critical Animal Pedagogies.

Design/methodology/approach

The findings drawn upon in this paper are from a critical human-animal ethnographic study carried out in three Swedish primary schools between 2012 and 2017 using a case study approach of interviews, observation and intervention.

Findings

This paper suggests that children's subtle ways of resisting and negotiating their own space in the face of adultism, which is the power adults exercise over children, are an ongoing struggle which can both destabilize anthropocentrism and open up space for new pedagogical practice.

Originality/value

This paper explores the implications of and possibilities for teaching and learning given the positions of human children and non-human animals intersect, foremost exploring the agency of children in the school environment.

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: 25 February 2019

Erik Cohen

This study aims to raises the question of the potential impact of posthumanism, a stream in contemporary postmodernist philosophy, on current tourism practices and tourism…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to raises the question of the potential impact of posthumanism, a stream in contemporary postmodernist philosophy, on current tourism practices and tourism studies. The author discusses its denial of some basic positions of enlightenment humanism: human exceptionalism, anthropocentrism and transcendentalism. The author then seeks to infer the implications of posthumanist thought for the basic concepts and categorical distinctions on which modern tourism and modernist tourist studies are based.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper raises the question of the potential impact of posthumanism, a stream in contemporary postmodernist philosophy, on current tourism practices and tourism studies. The author discusses its denial of some basic positions of Enlightenment humanism: human exceptionalism, anthropocentrism and transcendentalism. The author then seeks to infer the implications of posthumanist thought for the basic concepts and categorical distinctions on which modern tourism and modernist tourist studies are based. This paper raises the question of the potential impact of posthumanism, a stream in contemporary postmodernist philosophy, on current tourism practices and tourism studies. The author discusses its denial of some basic positions of Enlightenment humanism: human exceptionalism, anthropocentrism and transcendentalism. The author then seeks to infer the implications of posthumanist thought for the basic concepts and categorical distinctions on which modern tourism and modernist tourist studies are based. The author then discusses some inconsistencies in posthumanist philosophy, which stand in the way of its applicability to touristic practices, and end up with an appraisal of the significance of posthumanism for tourism studies.

Findings

The author pays specific attention to the implications of the effort of posthumanism to erase the human-animal divide for tourist-animal interaction, and of the possible impact of the adoption of posthumanist practices on the tourist industry and the ecological balance of wilderness areas. The author then discusses some inconsistencies in posthumanist philosophy, which stand in the way of its applicability to touristic practices, and end up with a brief appraisal of the significance of posthumanism for tourism studies.

Originality/value

This is the first attempt to confront tourism studies with the radical implications of posthumanist thought. It will hopefully open a new line of discourse in the field.

Details

Tourism Review, vol. 74 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1660-5373

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Book part
Publication date: 30 November 2020

Christian Stache

It is widely accepted among critical human–animal scholars that an absolute ontological distinction between humans and animals, the human–animal dualism, is an ideological…

Abstract

It is widely accepted among critical human–animal scholars that an absolute ontological distinction between humans and animals, the human–animal dualism, is an ideological construction. However, even some of the most radical animalists make use of a softer version of it when they explain animal exploitation and domination in capitalism. By criticizing the reintroduction of the human–animal dualism through the back door, I reopen the terrain for a historical–materialist explanation of bourgeois animal exploitation and domination that does not conceptualize them as a matter of species in the first place. Rather, with reference and in analogy to ecosocialist arguments on the greenhouse effect, it is demonstrated that a specific faction of capital – animal capital – which uses animals and animal products as means of production, is the root cause, key agent, and main profiteer of animal exploitation and domination in the current mode of production. Thus, the reworked concept of animal capital presented here differs from the original, postoperaist notion introduced by Nicole Shukin since it is based on a classic sociorelational and value theoretical understanding of capitalism. According to this approach, animals are integrated socioeconomically into the capitalist class society via a relation of superexploitation to capital, which can be called the capital–animal relation.

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Article
Publication date: 19 September 2020

Harry Wels

To further develop research methodologies for multi-species ethnographic fieldwork, based on researcher's experiences with multi-species fieldwork in private wildlife…

Abstract

Purpose

To further develop research methodologies for multi-species ethnographic fieldwork, based on researcher's experiences with multi-species fieldwork in private wildlife conservancies in South Africa and inspired by San tracking techniques.

Design/methodology/approach

Reflections on methodological lessons learnt during multi-species ethnographic fieldwork in South Africa. The approach is rather “Maanenesque” in telling various types of tales of the field. These tales also implicitly show how all-encompassing ethnographic fieldwork and its accompanying reflexivity are; there is never time for leisure in ethnographic fieldwork.

Findings

That developing fieldwork methodologies in multi-species ethnographic research confronts researchers with the explicit need for and training in multi-sensory methods and interpretations, inspired by “the art of tracking” of the San.

Originality/value

Comes up with a concrete suggestion for a sequence of research methods for multi-species ethnography based on the trials and tribulations of a multi-species ethnographer's experiences in South Africa and inspired by San tracking techniques.

Details

Journal of Organizational Ethnography, vol. 9 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-6749

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 2003

Clifton P. Flynn

Only within the past decade have sociologists begun to investigate the relationships between humans and other animals. Even more recently, college courses that examine…

Abstract

Only within the past decade have sociologists begun to investigate the relationships between humans and other animals. Even more recently, college courses that examine this subject have emerged. This article looks at one such undergraduate sociology course – Animals and Society – at the University of South Carolina Spartanburg. It outlines the opposition to the course and the fight for its approval. Then an overview of the course objectives and content is presented, followed by an assessment of the impact of the course on students. Finally the implications of the emergence of animals and society courses in sociology, and the new sub‐field of animal studies, are discussed.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 23 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

Keywords

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