1st Edition

Our Children and Other Animals The Cultural Construction of Human-Animal Relations in Childhood

By Matthew Cole, Kate Stewart Copyright 2014
    206 Pages
    by Routledge

    208 Pages
    by Routledge

    Focusing on the socialization of the human use of other animals as resources in contemporary Western society, this book explores the cultural reproduction of human-nonhuman animal relations in childhood. With close attention to the dominant practices through which children encounter animals and mainstream representations of animals in children's culture - whether in terms of the selective exposure of children to animals as pets or as food in the home or in school, or the representation of animals in mass media and social media - Our Children and Other Animals reveals the interconnectedness of studies of childhood, culture and human-animal relations. In doing so it establishes the importance of human-animal relations in sociology, by describing the sociological importance of animals in children's lives and children in animals’ lives. Presenting a new typology of the various kinds of human-animal relationship, this conceptually innovative book constitutes a clear demonstration of the relevance of sociology to the interdisciplinary field of human-animal relations and will appeal to readers across the social sciences with interests in sociology, childhood studies, cultural and media studies and human-animal interaction.

    Part I Conceptualizing Western Human–Nonhuman Animal Relations; Chapter 1 Introduction; Chapter 2 The Use of Names: Socially Constructing Animals as ‘Others’; Chapter 3 The Historical Separation of Children from Other Animals; Chapter 4 The Construction and Study of Children and Childhood; Part II The Contemporary Socialization of Human–Nonhuman Relations in Childhood; Chapter 5 Family Practices and the Shaping of Human–Nonhuman Identities; Chapter 6 Cute Style: Mass Media Representations of Other Animals; Chapter 7 Education: Making Anthroparchal Domination Reasonable; Chapter 8 Playing with Power: Virtual Relations with Other Animals in Digital Media; Part III Reconstructing Children’s Relations with Other Animals: Vegan Practices and Representations; Chapter 9 We’ve Got to Get Out of This Place: The Utopian Vehicularity of Vegan Children’s Culture; Chapter 10 Conclusion: Resisting the Zooicidal Imperative;


    Matthew Cole is an Associate Lecturer and Honorary Associate in Sociology at the Open University, UK.

    Kate Stewart is Principal Lecturer in Sociology at Nottingham Trent University, UK.

    This examination of cultural representations of nonhuman animals is a much-needed critical contribution to the sociology of childhood. Situating practices and representations in the context of capitalist marketing, Cole and Stewart address the great moral tragedy in which children are socialized into relations of domination. This important and provocative text is certain to stimulate exciting classroom discussion.

    John Sorenson, Brock University, Canada

    Providing a sociological approach to the issue of how children are taught to think about and experience animals, the authors illuminate the re-production of oppressive attitudes through children's culture. Ultimately, this is a hopeful book, not only because it demonstrates the importance of sociology in understanding human-animal relations, but also because recognizing how exploitation is normalized offers possibilities for exposing its illogicality and refusing its harms.

    Carol J. Adams, author of The Sexual Politics of Meat

    If you love sociology and the study of veganism, too, this academic book is a fascinating look at how we come to relate to animals and what we need to address in order to change the status quo. It'll exercise your mind and help you discuss veganism even more intelligently with others, too. Especially kids.

    Ruby Roth, author of V is for Vegan

    An important book. It provides insightful analyses of how nonhuman animals are portrayed to children, and I hope it will inspire more work in the same vein.

    William Craine, CUNY, USA

    "Our Children and Other Animals offers a groundbreaking exploration into the sociology of intersecting human-nonhuman relationships that will be foundational to future research and advocacy endeavors."
    Corey Wrenn, Monmouth University, Between the Species