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Pet grief: When is non-human life grievable?
Mälardalen University, School of Health, Care and Social Welfare, Health and Welfare.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9902-1191
2015 (English)In: Sociological Review, ISSN 0038-0261, E-ISSN 1467-954X, Vol. 63, no 1, 19-35 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study explores how pet owners grieve their pets and view their pets' transience. Drawing on Butler's notion of the differential allocation of grievability, I have analysed interviews with eighteen pet owners. Butler argues that grievability is made possible by a normative framework which allows for some human or human-like lives to be grieved, while other lives are rendered 'lose-able'. All the interviewed pet owners say that they are capable of grieving a non-human animal, but analysis suggests that they make their pets grievable and ungrievable by turns. I argue that by maintaining this ambivalence, the interviewees negotiate pets' inclusion in a human moral community while simultaneously defending human exceptionalism. The article concludes with a discussion of pet grief as a potentially destabilizing emotion. I suggest that grieving beings on the border between grievable human and lose-able animal - 'werewolves' according to Giorgio Agamben - may be a powerful way of challenging normative frameworks which arbitrarily render some human and non-human lives lose-able.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 63, no 1, 19-35 p.
Keyword [en]
Animal studies, Bereavement, Companion animals, Giorgio Agamben, Grief, Human-animal relations, Judith Butler, Loss, Mourning, Pets
National Category
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-27675DOI: 10.1111/1467-954X.12226ISI: 000350250500002Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84923501197OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mdh-27675DiVA: diva2:793614
Available from: 2015-03-09 Created: 2015-03-06 Last updated: 2015-04-02Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

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Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
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