Sociology

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 568 items for

  • Refine by access: User-accessible content x
Clear All
Mariam Motamedi Fraser

Chapter 4 is organised around two connected parts. The first analyses two popular scientific books – one by Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods, the other by Clive Wynne – in which the authors seek to explain to their readers what dogs are. The second part explores some of the implications of those explanations, for dogs. The chapter draws on Jocelyn Porcher’s theory of animal labour to do this. Its argument in essence is that dogs’ species story – exemplified in these two books – actively militates against an understanding of dogs as labouring subjects. And because dogs are not perceived to be labouring subjects, it is difficult to identify, let alone challenge, the ongoing exploitation of companion and working dogs, or to recognise their forms of ‘resistance’. As for the creative potentiality that Porcher claims to exist in labour, dogs’ species story allows no leverage for this at all. Although the chapter draws on Porcher’s theory of animal labour to make this case and to explore its implications, the particularity of dogs’ species story, as it is described, for example, by the scientists explored in the first half of this chapter, also constitutes a critique of it, and of Porcher’s implicit assumption that her account of labour applies equally to all domesticated animals. Debates about animal labour are complex and multifaceted, as the conclusion of this chapter acknowledges and discusses.

in Dog politics
Open Access (free)
Scientific research with dogs
Mariam Motamedi Fraser

Previous chapters have addressed the serious trouble that dogs’ species story makes for dogs. Chapter 5 turns to the trouble that the story makes for scientists – for the very scientists who are writing it. It puts three related, but differently charged, issues into conversation with one another: dogs’ perceived relationality, as it is defined as a methodological problem in science; relationality, as it is defined as the foundation of animal capability, agency and resistance in nimal studies; and the contested place of singular individuality in both. This chapter shows how Vinciane Despret’s model of ‘polite research’ is differently relevant to those scientists who support dogs’ species story (and who are therefore obliged to grapple with the methodological quandaries that are perceived to be raised by dog–human relationality) and to those who contest it (and who foreground dog individuality in contrast). It also argues, however, that neither polite research, nor the responses of these scientists to the problems posed by dogs, offer much in the way of the undoing of dogs’ species story, nor can they wholly account for how dogs might be enabled to object to the questions that are posed to them by science. The final section of the chapter analyses Martin Seligman’s ‘learned helplessness’ research, the brutality of which served, inadvertently, to draw attention not only to the relevance of intersubjectivity, but also to the dogs’ irreducible singularity, which had the power, at least momentarily, to interrupt, perhaps even to disrupt, the demands of the experiments.

in Dog politics
Open Access (free)
Mariam Motamedi Fraser

This final chapter returns to the ‘problem’ of the individual. It explores how a particular version of the individual is connected to the establishment of modern science, and how contemporary science – and especially evolutionary developmental biology – is today posing challenges to it. It finds in Alfred North Whitehead’s concept of an ‘enduring concrete percipient’ a way to navigate a path between the notion of the individual modern subject on the one hand, and relational entanglement on the other. This concept also offers something of a ‘rough guide to relevance’, a guide to anticipating whether and how an event might become relevant from an individual’s ‘point of view’. Chapter 7 uses this guide to begin to answer Lynda Birke’s question as to ‘what’s in it for the animals?’, which it brings to debates about the individual and relationality in the social sciences. The second part of the chapter addresses again how species thinking, in erasing the significance of animals as individuals, simultaneously erases a most important source of evidence of violence against them: their very ‘selves’, their bodies, their lives, their deaths. It concludes with a reflection on the value of different ways of challenging species, and on what this book’s understanding of ‘species stories’ offers in this regard. Dog Politics closes with a discussion of how the relations between dogs and humans might be reconstructed, and on the problems that the human love of dogs poses for dogs.

in Dog politics
Open Access (free)
Species stories and the animal sciences
Series: Inscriptions

Everywhere dogs are found, they are stitched into human hearts. But are humans stitched into dogs’ hearts? Countless celebrations of ‘the dog–human bond’ suggest that they are. Yet ‘the bond’ does not always come easily to dogs. Dog Politics seeks to denaturalise, in different ways, dogs’ ‘species story’, the scientific story that claims that being with humans somehow constitutes dogs’ evolutionary destiny. This book asks what evidence exists for this story; what choices dogs have but to go along with it; and what expectations, demands and burdens it places on dogs, on a daily basis. In doing so, it offers an unfamiliar and discomfiting account of the lives of domesticated dogs’ today. Dog Politics is an empirical investigation of dogs in science that makes important theoretical contributions to debates of contemporary significance. It addresses how the connections between animal behaviours and species identities are established in theory and practice. It analyses the enduring entanglement of racism and speciesism, and how the interlocking relations between these prejudices are shaped by the different ways that the categories of ‘race’ and of species are conceived of in science over time. In the light of the reification and exploitation of dogs’ perceived relationality with humans, it looks again at the ethics and politics of intersubjectivity, becoming-with, entanglements. It disputes that species can be separated from storying. Above all, Dog Politics shows how species stories erase the singular individual animal as a figure of theoretical, methodological, ethical and political value, and with what dire consequences.

Open Access (free)
Mariam Motamedi Fraser

Chapter 2 addresses dogs’ species story. This is the story of ‘how dogs became dogs’ as it is understood, discussed and debated in the fields of genetics, archaeology, behavioural ecology and canine science. One of the most significant elements of this story concerns the relation between dog speciation and dog domestication: did dogs become dogs before they were domesticated, or by way of domestication? This chapter is an interrogation of how proof of dog speciation/domestication is established, what evidence exists to support it, and what role dogs themselves play in disrupting it. In all, the aim of the chapter is to illustrate that dogs’ species story is told with unwarranted confidence. But it is also to demonstrate, importantly, that it is a story that wields substantial power, authority and influence. The chapter is bookended by two interrelated topics that are important to Dog Politics as a whole: time, and the relations between species and ‘race’. It begins with a discussion of why Darwin’s presentation of his theory of evolution by natural selection to his Victorian public, which greatly relied on dogs, lends itself to such ongoing confusion with regard to evolutionary time, and ends by illustrating how easily, if not how inevitably, species and ‘race’ can come to be conflated, when the different temporal scales of biological speciation and political racialisation are not available to distinguish them.

in Dog politics
Open Access (free)
Senta’s howl
Mariam Motamedi Fraser

This chapter begins by introducing the driving concept of the book: the concept of a ‘species story’, and how it is relevant to dogs, who constitute the empirical focus of Dog Politics. It also introduces readers to what Dog Politics considers to be the central achievement of species stories, which is the erasure of the singular individual animal as a figure of theoretical, methodological, ethical and political significance. As such, this discussion also necessarily includes some preliminary reflection on the concept of ‘the individual’. Having established what the book is about in the broadest terms, the introduction then sets the scientific ‘scene’ for Dog Politics: first, by explaining what is meant by, and what in this book will constitute, ‘the animal sciences’; second, by exploring how these sciences have secured hegemony over the study of animals historically and with what consequences for non-scientific knowledges today (and especially for ‘ordinary’ knowledges and for social science and humanities knowledges); and third, by using contemporary debates about the relations between the classical ethologist Konrad Lorenz’s life and work as a case study through which to illustrate the potentially dire consequences of ‘species thinking’, and the urgent need for transdisciplinarity in the study of animals. The final section of the chapter outlines the content of each of the chapters that follow.

in Dog politics
Mariam Motamedi Fraser

Chapter 1 represents a first step toward the de-naturalisation of dogs’ species story by illustrating the considerable effort that is required, on the parts of both humans and dogs, to produce and secure the ‘dog–human bond’. It opens by briefly situating the elision between dog ‘intelligence’ and dog obedience in the context of a long European history in which the perception of dogs as useful animals had a part to play in colonial ‘civilising’ projects, and in scientific racism in the nineteenth century. The first part of the chapter ends by contesting the significance of the shift from obedience to an ‘affirmative biopolitics’ in contemporary dog training: when it comes to ‘the bond’, it argues, the difference between them is negligible. The second part of the chapter focuses on one topic in particular, as it is understood by canine scientists and canine behavioural professionals: human-controlled dog socialisation and the consequences that follow from inadequate socialisation (‘behavioural problems’). It uses the much-discussed socialisation (or not) of the COVID-19 pandemic puppies to argue not that the experiences of these puppies were exceptional, but rather that they shone an exceptionally bright light on the routine intolerability that characterises the conditions under which many domesticated dogs live in the Global North. The chapter concludes with a reflection on the roles played by canine behavioural professionals in highlighting, mediating and sometimes repairing the gap between the widespread fascination with dogs, and how dogs live in practice.

in Dog politics
Species, ‘race’ and individuals
Mariam Motamedi Fraser

The entanglement of species thinking (speciesism) and racism is enduring. How exactly these prejudices are entangled in each other, however, is determined in part by the different ways that the categories of species and of ‘race’ are conceived of in science. This chapter traces changing conceptions of ‘race’ and of species over several centuries, with the aim of better understanding the traffic between them. Significant here will be the bifurcation of the concepts of ‘race’ and of species post-population thinking – and especially their subsequently differing time scales. Failure to appreciate these temporal differences can lead to misplaced political optimism, as this chapter illustrates by way of a critical analysis of two contemporary readings of Darwin’s famous ‘parasol anecdote’. Further, through an analysis of the Michael Vick dog fighting controversy, this chapter teases out how the implications of the co-racialisation of pit bulls and of humans differs for dogs and for humans, given that dogs are first gathered under the sign of species. This discussion is also relevant to one of the key arguments of the book as a whole, which is that species thinking erases the significance of particularity: in practice, the particularity of the individual animal. One question that arises, therefore, is how the individual animal might be ‘recovered’ – if not in science, then in politics. The chapter proposes that there is no route ‘back’ to individuality via species. The racialisation of dogs, however, offers one potential point of entry to individuation and/or individualisation.

in Dog politics
Open Access (free)
How to turn an individual dog into a species ambassador
Mariam Motamedi Fraser

Chapter 3 addresses some of the ways that species and behaviours come to be connected to each other in science. This is important, for dogs’ species story would not necessarily, in itself, bear so very heavily on dogs, were it not that this story often shapes contemporary scientific understandings of what dogs need and want, and how they do and should behave. Chapter 3 explores three foundational traditions in the study of animals: classical ethology, behaviourism and ‘anecdotalism’, which, although associated with Charles Darwin and Georges Romanes, continue to trouble contemporary canine science and, in particular, contemporary canine ethology. These traditions, in many regards, could not be more different from each other. This chapter addresses, for example, some of the postwar political conflicts between classical ethology and behaviourism, and how they were informed by their differing conceptions of the species–behaviour relation. It also explores why anecdotalism appears to be so different from almost every other scientific school of thinking. Yet this is precisely the point of Chapter 3: despite the rifts that apparently separate their theories, methodologies and politics, these traditions – including ‘even’ anecdotalism – are united in at least one thing, which is their reliance on species as the final explanation of animal behaviour.

in Dog politics
Open Access (free)
Carrie Friese

There are key books on the subject of laboratory animals that represent key turning points in the intertwined social processes involved in using, regulating, contesting, and understanding animals in science and society. The work of the Animal Research Nexus Programme in this book articulates another turning point in the mapping of the social space of laboratory animals, which includes research regarding that social space. Nexus, or connection, analytically instantiates social processes that forego polarised political conflict, and thus opens up new ways to both conduct and research animal research. This afterword considers some directions that this conceptualisation of research animals opens up and makes possible for the future.

in Researching animal research