Pigs and People: Sociological Perspectives on the Discipline of Nonhuman Animals in Intensive Confinement

In: Society & Animals
Author: Joel Novek
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Highly concentrated intensive confinement systems have become the norm in agriculture concerning nonhuman animals. These systems have provoked a lively debate from an animal welfare perspective. Sociologists can contribute to this debate by drawing parallels between the institutional regulation of human beings and of animals under confinement. Results of research on the transformation of Canadian hog production from the 1950s to the present—based on the evolution of plans for sow housing produced by the Canada Plan Service—showed a much tighter compression of hog bodies and reproduction in space and time. The prevalence of behavioral stereotypes, however, indicates imperfect animal socialization and reconfiguration. The concept of discipline is a useful perspective that could bridge the gap between the regulations of humans in industrial societies and of pigs in intensive confinement. This concept derived from elements of labor process and Foucauldian and post-humanist theories.

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