Muddied Living: making home with dog companions




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Peer reviewed



Purpose Focusing on everyday lives and relationships within the household, this paper suggests 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 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.


The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.


Companion species, dogs, home, power, space


Cudworth, E. (2020) Muddied Living: making home with dog companions. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 40(9),


Research Institute

Institute for Research in Criminology, Community, Education and Social Justice