Social science and the study of farm animal welfare: a critical literature review

Michaël De Krom

    Onderzoeksoutput: Bijdrage aan congresC3: Congres - Meeting abstract


    In the last three decades, livestock production practices have risen to importance in scientific, political, and public debates on sustainable development. Topics of debate related to livestock farming’s environmental impact, food safety and security, and human health have received considerable sociological attention. Animal welfare issues, and particularly the farm animal-human relations implicated in these, have only recently become a topic of sociological scrutiny. This paper presents a critical review of the emerging body of social scientific literature on farm animal welfare. Based on a systematic search for relevant literature in the Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) and Sociological Abstracts databases, the paper discerns the theoretical and epistemological perspectives that social scientists have used to study practices and institutions in which farm animal welfare levels are defined and enacted. The paper argues that the majority of studies conceptualise animals either from a simple realist perspective as materials or objects, or from a constructivist perspective as a symbolically constituted category. These conceptualisations entail fundamental difficulties to analytically account for animal-human relations involving recognitions of animals as sentient beings, while it is exactly such recognition of animals as in some sense social others that lie at the root of animal welfare concerns. The paper concludes by exploring how animals may be conceptualised as sentient co-constitutors of social life with the help of practice theories.
    Oorspronkelijke taalEngels
    Aantal pagina’s1
    PublicatiestatusGepubliceerd - 2013
    Evenement11th Conference of the European Sociological Association (2013) - Turin, Italië
    Duur: 28-aug.-201331-aug.-2013


    Congres11th Conference of the European Sociological Association (2013)
    Verkorte titelESA 2013


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