Animal Studies Bibliography

Arluke, Arnold. 1987. Reasons for the sociological study of animal research: The experimenter as guinea pig. Bulletin of Psychologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals ( PsyETA ) 6(2): 8-9.

The debate over animal experimentation, like many other debates, involves stereotypes of each side that keep us from really understanding the issues at stake. In particular, the idea that animal researchers are monsters limits communication. The remedy for this stereotyping problem is for empirical research to provide information on people who work with lab animals and what their work is like. Both sides of the debate recognize the need for such work, and sociologists are perfect for the job, but few have undertaken such studies. This absence is because the discipline has no animal sociology subfield (because human-animal interactions have not been considered valid subjects by sociologists), and because of the difficulties of doing work in research labs that may want to keep outsiders away in order to avoid bas press or criticism. For sociologists who do plan to study this field, field research (ethnography/participant observation) is the best technique to use, and phenomenology the best framework. This approach will allow sociologists to come to understand the animal researcher's point of view and her/his “feelings, motives, and thoughts” (8). To achieve this goal, the sociologist must not approach the research with a theoretical perspective nor with personal biases, both of which might limit what s/he observes and therefore limit the ability to truly understand the workers' point of view. The great benefit of such research is that it humanizes members of other groups. By recognizing that animal researchers are just normal people, we can move from explaining animal experimentation based on bad people to thinking about the cultural matrix that produces such institutions.


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