A Sociology for Other Animals: Analysis, advocacy, intervention




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Sociology has come late to the field of Human Animal Studies (HAS), and such scholarship remains peripheral to the discipline. Early sociological interventions in the field were often informed by a critical perspective, in particular feminism but also Marxism and critical race studies. There have also been less critical routes taken, often using approaches such as actor-network theory and symbolic interactionism. These varied initiatives have made important contributions to the project of animalizing sociology and problematizing its legacies of human-exclusivity. As HAS expands and matures however, different kinds of study and different normative orientations have come increasingly into relations of tension in this eclectic field. This is particularly so when it comes to the ideological and ethical debates on appropriate human relations with other species, and on questions of whether and how scholarship might intervene to alter such relations. However, despite questioning contemporary social forms of human-animal relations and suggesting a need for change, the link between analysis and political strategy is uncertain. This paper maps the field of sociological animal studies through some examples of critical and mainstream approaches and considers their relation to advocacy. While those working in critical sociological traditions may appear to have a more certain political agenda, this article suggests that an analysis of 'how things are' does not always lead to a coherent position on 'what is to be done' in terms of social movement agendas or policy intervention. In addition, concepts deployed in advocacy such as rights, liberation and welfare are problematic when applied beyond the human. Even conceptions less entrenched in the liberal humanist tradition such as embodiment, care and vulnerability are difficult to operationalize. Despite complex and contested claims however, this paper suggests that there might also be possibilities for solidarity.


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.



Cudworth, E. (2016) A Sociology for Other Animals: Analysis, advocacy, intervention. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 36 (3-4), pp. 242-257.


Research Institute

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