Killing them with kindness: a meso-dialectical study of the conceptual formation of humane and inhumane in the no-kill animal shelter movement
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] This research begins with one question: What is humane about humane? In the context of the no-kill animal shelter movement this study examines the social processes through which different conceptualizations of humane and inhumane have historically emerged and how the concepts of humane and inhumane shape relationships among human animals as well as human animal relations with other animals. In short, the no-kill animal shelter movement regards shelters that practice so-called euthanasia as inhumane and refers to them as kill shelters. The meso-dialectical perspective, an attempt to merge mesodomain analysis with a dialectical approach to historical institutionalism, initially allows me to question linkages and contradictions among organizations within social movement fields. I use the meta-power perspective to look at the structure of power and how relational control of the available conditions for action is accomplished. Autoethnography and ethnozoology are the methodologies used in this case study of Happy Tails Animal Sanctuary, an organization affiliated with the no-kill animal shelter movement. My memories of working in animal shelters and as a movement member are prominent along with discourse analysis focused on newspaper articles, government documents, websites and television programs. This study explores movement ethics as they relate to movement ethos, the social processes through which animals are commodified and no-kill movement symbolism as a factor in institutionalizing racism and other social inequalities. The actual killing practices comprise the final area of inquiry. Anthropocentric and speciesist views of the social world that dominate the existing body of sociological literature are regarded as problematic.
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