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Article
Publication date: 25 February 2020

David Redmalm

This article adopts Foucault's notion of a bipolar technology of disciplinary power and regulatory biopower to address the tension between discipline and freedom in…

Abstract

Purpose

This article adopts Foucault's notion of a bipolar technology of disciplinary power and regulatory biopower to address the tension between discipline and freedom in domestic relationships between human and nonhuman animals commonly referred to as “pets.” In doing so, the article examines the promises and pitfalls of thinking through pet keeping as a form of lived, posthumanist critique.

Design/methodology/approach

The argument relies on an interview study with 20 pet owners—most of the interviews conducted in their homes together with their pets—to conceptualize how they organize their lives in relation to their pets.

Findings

The analysis shows that the boundaries of the home, the play of power between bodies, and the “conditions of an unconditional love” are central to producing the pet relationship as inherently meaningful and as an indispensable part of the lives of both pet keepers and pets. A balance between discipline and freedom enables the construction of both human and other identities: pet owners produce their pets' subjectivity by speaking of them as autonomous persons, while pets' presence in the home also enables their owners' subjectivity.

Social implications

The article critically examines interspecies relationships, which by extension can benefit nonhuman animals. It argues that pet keeping can challenge anthropocentrism and unsustainable consumption lifestyles, but it may also reinforce prevailing biopolitical logics, if it remains maintained within a secluded domestic or cultural sphere.

Originality/value

The article draws on original data. While Foucauldian theory has been used to discuss pet keeping, empirical studies of pet keeping that rely on this theoretical framework are scarce.

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 humananimal sporting…

Abstract

To outline the multiple ways in which animals are inserted into sporting practices, outline historical and contemporary approaches to studying humananimal sporting practices, and advocate for the centering of sociological problems in humananimal 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 humananimal interactions.

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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 humananimal 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 humananimal 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

Keywords

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Book part
Publication date: 7 May 2019

Maria Alejandra Gonzalez-Perez and Andri Georgiadou

This chapter of exploratory nature aims to provide an account of the reviewed literature and presents some empirical cases to come to conceptualize dogs as social actors…

Abstract

Purpose

This chapter of exploratory nature aims to provide an account of the reviewed literature and presents some empirical cases to come to conceptualize dogs as social actors with different legitimate roles in the working, social, private, economic, and family life of human beings.

Design/Methodology/Approach

This chapter is the product of a research inspired by the great interest of the authors on rising awareness of the importance of dogs in human working lives. For this, a purposive literature review took place; we consulted scientific studies databases, and also gathered information from market research agencies, and other general media resources. To have a more comprehensive view, and to respond to a specific question on dogs at the workplace, a selection of cases is used to illustrate. For the case studies, secondary data research was used, and individual, structured interviews were conducted and analyzed.

Findings

This chapter reviews the relationship between humans and animals. It identifies attitudes and perception toward animals, highlighting the evolution of the intimate bond and the deep relationship between dogs and humans. It describes some cases of dogs as working beings at the service of human functions and dimensions of the pet care markets. Finally, it presents some cases of pet-friendly work environments.

Originality/Value

The novel contribution of this chapter is putting dogs in the management of diversity academic literature. In this study, we find that the role, meaning, and purpose of dogs in people’s lives (and in many cases in organizations) are being underestimated. Including and making visible the presence of dogs in the personal, work, and well-being of people represents challenges to be addressed by managers. Additionally, it represents challenges to think about and investigate the welfare of dogs that interact with human beings in productive environments.

Details

Diversity within Diversity Management
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78973-172-9

Keywords

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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: 3 November 2014

Nik Taylor and Lindsay Hamilton

The last few decades have seen the rise of a new field of inquiry – humananimal 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 – humananimal 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 humananimal 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 humananimal 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

Keywords

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Abstract

Details

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

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 2003

Janet M. Alger and Steven F. Alger

Ever since Mead, sociology has maintained a deep divide between human and non human animals. In effect, Mead constructed humans as having capacities that he saw lacking in…

Abstract

Ever since Mead, sociology has maintained a deep divide between human and non human animals. In effect, Mead constructed humans as having capacities that he saw lacking in animals. Recent research on animals has challenged the traditional ideas of Mead and others by providing evidence of animal intelligence, adaptability, selfawareness, emotionality, communication and culture. This paper examines the humananimal relationship as presented in Introductory Sociology Textbooks to see if this new research on animals has allowed us to move beyond Mead. We find outdated information and confused thinking on such topics as the relationship between language and culture, the development of the self in animals, and the role of instinct, socialization and culture in animal behavior. We conclude that, with few exceptions, the main function of the treatment of animals in these texts is to affirm the hard line that sociology has always drawn between humans and other species.

Details

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

Keywords

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Abstract

Details

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

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Abstract

Details

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

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