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Discipline and Puppies: Control, Discipline and Biopower in More-than-Human Homes
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology. (Cultural Matters Group, HumAnimal Group)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9902-1191
2016 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This study draws on interviews with eighteen pet owners to conceptualize how they organize their lives in relation to their pets. I use Foucault’s notion of the bipolar technology of disciplinary power and regulatory biopower in combination with Haraway’s material-semiotics to explore the normative frameworks that structure the relationship between pet and owner and make it meaningful. The analysis shows that the boundaries of the home, the play of power between bodies, and exchanges of love and care are central to producing the pet relationship as inherently meaningful and as an indispensible part of the lives of both pet keepers and pets. While control is present in the owners’ management of the home, the operation of more subtle forms of power can be exposed in the owners’ accounts. A balance between discipline and freedom enables the construction of both human and other identities: pet owners produce their pets’ subjectivity by speaking of them as autonomous persons, while and pets presence in the home also enable their owners’ subjectivity. Pets do not only leave traces in the accounts of their owners, but are co-constituents of their owner’s accounts; in a sense using their owners as linguistic prostheses. I end the article by comparing pet keeping to Foucault’s idea of a lived critique to underline that the power dynamics of pet keeping problematize the often taken-for-granted status of one of sociology’s main objects of study: “the human.”

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm, 2016.
Keywords [en]
Biopolitics, biopower, companion animals, control, cynics, Diogenes, Michel Foucault, Donna Haraway, pets
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology; Gender Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-377022OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-377022DiVA, id: diva2:1288293
Conference
European Society for Literature, Science and the Arts, June 14–17, 2016, Stockholm, Sweden
Projects
Intimitetens sociala former
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 421-2014-1465Available from: 2019-02-12 Created: 2019-02-12 Last updated: 2019-09-30Bibliographically approved

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http://quantified-self.org/european-society-for-literature-science-and-the-arts-june-14-17-2016

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Redmalm, David

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