Dairy Cows: Workers in the Shadows?

In: Society & Animals
Jocelyne Porcher

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Tiphaine Schmitt INRA-SADAPT/AgroParisTech

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Despite the interest that sociologists, especially in the English-speaking world, show in animals and human-animal relations, we know little about the place that animals actually have in work. The social sciences still see work as a distinctive feature of humans. Based on the hypothesis that animals are actors involved in the process of work, and not simply objects, the relationship of a herd of 60 cows was studied (a) with their farmer, (b) among themselves, and (c) with a milking robot. Our findings show that cows do collaborate in the farmer’s work, and our results raise the question: can cows’ collaboration in work be considered work?

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