Year of entry: 2018
Course unit details:
Sociology of Human Animal Relations
|Unit level||Level 3|
|Teaching period(s)||Semester 1|
|Available as a free choice unit?||Yes|
This course explores the significance of human-animal relations for understanding human societies. With reference to the diverse and often controversial roles of animals in modern societies, as pets, as foods, as cosmetics, as laboratory animals and as agricultural machines, it examines the important but often invisible role of nonhuman animals in human social life.
Throughout history nonhuman animals have played key roles in human societies. In different historical periods and in different cultures animals have been key sources of calories, clothing, labour power, physical protection and companionship, as well as cultural symbolism, identities, mythology and religious beliefs. In late modern societies, animals and the various products derived from their bodies continue to play a huge role in both material and cultural aspects of human social organisation. This has led some to argue that it is necessary to understand social life as comprising more than just the interactions between human beings, and this course takes up that argument.
The course will trace how human-animal relations have changed over time, and how these changes have been connected to social transformations, with an emphasis upon changing human-animal relations in modernity. The deeply ambiguous and contested place of animals in modern societies will be explored in depth, with reference to the diverse roles of animals in different locales, from the home to the farm, from the zoo to the laboratory. In this way the course will combine 'macro' and 'micro' approaches, exploring the nature of human-animal interactions in everyday life as well as in rationalised modern systems of production and consumption.
On completion of this course unit students will be able to:
- Assess the importance of human-animal relations for understanding human social life.
- Explain how the relations between humans and nonhuman animals have changed over time in relation to social transformations.
- Understand the diverse and ambiguous roles of animals in a range of social institutions and locales.
- Identify the changing ideological function of animals in various modern discourses and cultural forms.
- Critically assess the material and cultural significance of nonhuman animals in late modern societies.
Teaching and learning methods
Weekly lecture and tutorial/workshop, incorporating small group discussion of key readings focussed upon questions set by the lecturer, student presentations, and whole group interactive learning.
- This course develops skills in conceptual and analytical thinking, critical evaluation of ideas and arguments, synthesis of information from multiple sources, and oral presentation. The course content deals with issues around human relations with animals which are relevant for a range of public and private sector organisations, from animal welfare, wildlife and conservation groups to zoos, agricultural producers, veterinary services and scientific research organisations.
3,000 word essay (50%) + 2 hour exam (50%)
Arnold Arluke and Clinton Sanders (2008) Between the Species: A Reader in Human-Animal Relationships.
Adrian Franklin (1999) Animals and Modern Cultures: A Sociology of Human-Animal Relations in Modernity.
Linda Kalof (2007) Looking at Animals in Human History.
Aubrey Manning and James Serpell (1994) Animals and Human Society: Changing Perspectives.
Susan Schrepfer and Philip Scranton (eds) (2003) Industrializing Organisms: Introducing Evolutionary History.
Arnold Arluke and Clinton Sanders (1996) Regarding Animals.
Ted Benton (1994) Natural Relations: Ecology, Animal Rights and Social Justice.
|Scheduled activity hours|
|Assessment written exam||2|
|Independent study hours|
|Richie Nimmo||Unit coordinator|
Monday 13:00 - 16:00