9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN12 Environment and Society

2009-09-04 09:00:00 2009-09-04 10:30:00 Friday, 4 September 09:00 - 10:30 Nature Protection and Social Perception of Animals Building I, 1E6

The Dog that Could not Bark

The paper looks at how developed Western societies deal with the chaos of natural world. Late modernity has been associated with obsessions about order, and urban environments have seen a visible proliferation of commercially controlled spaces, protected from undesirable elements. Any unattached population represents a threat to the hyper-controlled urban settings. One example of such population (rarely addressed in sociology) are stray and abandoned animals. The paper analyses the contradiction between the self-proclaimed mission of animal control services of "saving lives" and "finding new homes" for the animal, and the brutal reality of mass killings, executed in relative secrecy. It argues that in a modern society repressive drives of control machines, their waste disposal and disciplinary functions have to be reconciled with the ideology of welfare that still requires the state and the citizens to assist the weak and the needy. Like other groups who are redundant to the late modern project, unattached cats and dogs cannot be just discarded without any care or procedure. This is where strange ambiguous concepts and propositions emerge, such as tough love (in relation to human deviants) and merciful destruction (in relation to delinquent animals).