Our Children and Other Animals: The Cultural Construction of Human-Animal Relations in Childhood, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Our Children and Other Animals

The Cultural Construction of Human-Animal Relations in Childhood, 1st Edition

By Matthew Cole, Kate Stewart


208 pages

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Paperback: 9781138215719
pub: 2016-08-04
Hardback: 9781409464600
pub: 2014-11-07
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pub: 2016-05-23
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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.


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 by Matthew Cole and Kate Stewart is a timely and well-written book about the sociological importance of nonhuman animals in children’s lives. The motivation behind Our Children and Other Animals is to understand what Cole and Stewart call “the paradox of juxtaposition of death and delight.” The paradox is it is considered normal to juxtapose “‘characters’ as images and toys alongside the mangled body parts of other animals”… Our Children and Other Animals is a highly recommendable book because it is so descriptively and normatively rich, along with the fact that it offers an original and fresh approach to a rather neglected topic.

Luís Cordeiro Rodrigues, University of Fort Hare

About the Authors

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.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Children's Studies