Animal Studies Bibliography
Mixing Human and NonHumans Together: The Sociology of a Door Closer
Social Problems 1983, v. 35, n. 3, pg. 298-310
This paper examines the association of human to non-human animals. The author illustrates the role of non-human by using a “door-closer” as an example. The author contends that sociologists should examine how non-humans can provide the minimum effort and produce the maximum effect in order to understand the social construction of techniques. Non-humans can not only reverse force, but reverse time a well by eliminating the need to discipline a human actor by replacing them with a non-human to perform the task. It is suggested that non-humans are not only mortal, but ethical as well by means of their “prescription (pg. 301). This is the behavior imposed back onto the human by the non-human.
The author addresses the criticism by many sociologists that attributing human characteristics to non-human objects is a breach of natural barriers. The author contends that they deserve consideration because they are actors, just a humans are actors, that exchange their skills and properties.
Maintaining this unbiased view of non-humans, the author offers a coherent vocabulary to understand the relationship between humans and non-humans. They suggest that we should not stop using sociology when we study this relationship because in effect, we are studying role-expectation behavior, and social relations. Although technical non-human objects are used to illustrate this, it could very easily be applied to functional relationship between non-human animals (ex: seeing-eye dogs) and humans.