Society and Animals Through the Lens of the Holy Trinity
Jennifer R. Kelly
The lack of sociological support, both in sociological journals and sociological academic programs, for the subfield of animals and society, has led scholars to question its slow emergence. In response to this, I draw on the very heart of sociological tradition through Emilé Durkheim, Karl Marx, and Max Weber to explore the meaning of the nonhuman animal through the lens of the “holy trinity” of sociological theory. The classics can easily be read through a sociologically hegemonic frame, encased in an ongoing reaction to biological determinism. Despite these dominant, taken-for-granted, interpretations of the classics, brave efforts of negotiated and oppositional readings of the classics, have in fact, paved the way for a marriage between the root of sociological convention and the subfield of animals and society.
They Came From Ohio: Animals, Monsters and Narratives of Nature/Culture Boundaries
On October 18th, 2011, 56 exotic animals were set loose from the Muskingum County Animal Farm, in Zanesville, Ohio. The Muskingum incident set off a panic in the surrounding communities, and led to the slaughter of 48 animals by local police. The Muskingum incident was the largest escape of wild animals in US history, and attracted international media attention. Scripted by multiple authors, the international story draws from culturally available narratives circulating in the larger global discourse on the boundaries of nature and culture. In this paper, I argue that interpretations of the Muskingum incident reflect a cultural anxiety about animals - and nature - who are deemed "out of place" in socially defined human worlds. Using news stories interpreted from police reports released by Muskingum County Sheriff’s Office following the event, I argue that news media interpretations portray the incident as a struggle between nature and culture by situating their stories in cultural myths about monsters. I also demonstrate how news reports use monster stories to exploit nature/culture boundaries by distinguishing humans from animals. These findings offer insights into how arguments, images, and rhetoric of animals are conceptualized in socially circulating cultural narratives.
Symbolic Ideologies: Stewardship, Dominion and Husbandry
You don’t have to spend too much time with a farmer or rancher before you hear the word "stewardship," but what it means to be a good steward is a complicated business. Both academics and agriculturalists use stewardship as a catchall phrase for any pro-environmental action. As a result, terms like sustainability, management, conservation, and productivity get folded into academic discussions of stewardship. In this paper, I take the perspective of Symbolic Interaction to explore how cattle ranchers use the word stewardship, and the implications of this definition. Using ethnographic methods and in-depth interviews with cattle producers, I argue that stewardship describes a process of interaction among ranchers, animals, and the natural environment. Ranchers characterize good stewardship as a balance or symbiosis among these three actors. When ranching operations are in balance, cattle production is understood as an interaction that is positive for animals and the environment. I introduce the term symbiotic ideology to discuss how ranchers construct their operations as balanced or symbiotic within the constraints of cultural, governmental, and market demands.
My Best Friend and My Family: Narratives of Homeless People's Relationships with their Pets
Drawing on qualitative interviews with over seventy homeless pet guardians in five U.S. cities, this paper examines how defining animals as "friends" and "family members" articulates with certain experiences of homelessness and helps produce what is called the "promissory" self. Although the designations of friend and family member are commonly attributed to animals, they have particular significance among the homeless, especially those recently or episodically on the streets. This research is part of a larger project on pets and the homeless. Using narrative analysis, this paper focuses on how the experiences of those recently dislocated or moving on and off the streets have an affinity for depictions of animals as friends and family. More specifically, the experiences of uncertainty, liminality, and contingency call for narratives that document one's ability to be responsible and to have stability. In addition, animals designated in the statuses of friends and family can serve as incentives to get off the streets
Resonance of Moral Shocks in Abolitionist Animal Rights Advocacy: Overcoming Cultural Constraints
Corey Lee Wrenn
Jasper and Poulsen (1995) have long argued that moral shocks are critical for recruitment in the nonhuman animal rights movement. Building on this, Decoux (2009) argues that the abolitionist faction of the nonhuman animal rights movement fails to recruit members because it does not effectively utilize descriptions of suffering. However, the effectiveness of moral shocks and subsequent emotional reactions has been questioned. This article reviews the literature surrounding the use of moral shocks in social movements. Based on this review, it is suggested that the exploitation of emotional reactions to depictions of suffering can sometimes prove beneficial to recruitment, but successful use is contextually rooted in preexisting frameworks, ideology, and identity. It is concluded that a reliance on images and narratives might be misconstrued in a society dominated by nonhuman animal welfare ideology.
The Non-Feminized Specialty of a Feminized Field: A Gendered Network Analysis of Large Animal Medicine
Jenny R. Vermilya
The field of veterinary medicine experienced dramatic and rapid feminization during the latter part of the twentieth century. However, one sector has remained majority male. While small animal medicine, which constitutes the majority of practicing veterinarians, has seen a huge influx of women, large animal medicine has not. Why this portion of the profession has not experienced feminization when the rest of the field has seen such a remarkable gender shift is the focus of this paper. Veterinary medicine began as a solely masculine occupation, one where women were at first formally, and then later informally, excluded. When feminization occurred in small animal medicine, which made women the predominant gender in the entire field, the masculine ethos remained. This masculine culture is particularly persistent in the area of large animal medicine. Thus women are especially deterred from entering this specific sector. Actor-Network Theory can help us understand that while women's entry into small animal medicine caused them to adopt the traditionally masculine ethic of the career, the hyper-masculinized culture of large animal medicine as its own network has discouraged their entrance all together.
The Pig That Therefore I Am: Exporing the Human/Animal Boundary
Art allows us to "think with animals." In her photography series "The Pig That Therefore I Am," artist Miru Kim "thinks with animals" by photographing her nude body alongside pigs in factory farms and in farm sanctuaries. While Kim explains the intention of her photographs is to explore the linkages between inner and outer worlds through an exploration of skin, we can also understand her work as interrogating industrial animal agriculture practices and, ultimately, the human/animal divide. Using Kim's photographs, her artist's statement, and data collected at her artist's talk at the opening of her photography exhibit, in this paper I argue her work mirrors the boundary work employed by animal rights activists as it brings to light typically invisible animal practices. Animal practices work to create and sustain the human-animal divide, which is exacerbated by the invisibility of modern animal practices. By showing how Kim’s photography helps to bridge the human/animal divide, I also query whether her work re-inscribes other power dynamics through "the gaze." I conclude that Kim's work attempts to move into the more corporeal animal world, emphasizing our similarities in order to break down the human-animal divide.