Discipline and puppies: the powers of pet keeping
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
This article analyzes eighteen interviews with pet owners to conceptualize how they organize their lives in relation to their pets. I use Foucault’s concepts 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 pet owners produce their pets’ subjectivity by speaking of them as autonomous persons, pets also enable their owners’ subjectivity. I end the article by comparing pet keeping to Foucault’s notion 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".
biopower, companion animals, cynicism, disciplinary power, Michel Foucault, Donna Haraway, human-animal relations, pets, resistance
Research subject Sociology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-261596OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-261596DiVA: diva2:850675