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Dilemmatic human–animal boundaries in Britain and Romania: Post-materialist and materialist dehumanization

Dilemmatic human–animal boundaries in Britain and Romania: Post-materialist and materialist dehumanization
Dilemmatic human–animal boundaries in Britain and Romania: Post-materialist and materialist dehumanization
Theories of dehumanization generally assume a single clear-cut, value-free and non-dilemmatic boundary between the categories ‘human’ and ‘animal’. The present study highlights the relevance of dilemmas involved in drawing that boundary. In six focus groups carried out in Romania and Britain, 42 participants were challenged to think about dilemmas pertaining to animal and human life. Four themes were identified: rational autonomy, sentience, speciesism and maintaining materialist and post-materialist values. Sentience made animals resemble humans, while humans' rational autonomy made them distinctive. Speciesism underlay the human participants' prioritization of their own interests over those of animals, and a conservative consensus that the existing social system could not change supported this speciesism when it was challenged. Romanian participants appealed to Romania's lack of modernity and British participants to Britain's modernity to justify such conservatism. The findings suggest that the human–animal boundary is not essentialized; rather it seems that such boundary is constructed in a dilemmatic and post hoc way. Implications for theories of dehumanization are discussed
0144-6665
875-893
Marcu, Afrodita
25ba37d2-9068-4c58-8527-fb799152add3
Lyons, Evanthia
f12a0772-e625-42fe-8af5-82b39f44e91c
Hegarty, Peter
e61d75cc-eedb-42ba-a0c9-03055e8ddfc3
Marcu, Afrodita
25ba37d2-9068-4c58-8527-fb799152add3
Lyons, Evanthia
f12a0772-e625-42fe-8af5-82b39f44e91c
Hegarty, Peter
e61d75cc-eedb-42ba-a0c9-03055e8ddfc3

Marcu, Afrodita, Lyons, Evanthia and Hegarty, Peter (2007) Dilemmatic human–animal boundaries in Britain and Romania: Post-materialist and materialist dehumanization. British Journal of Social Psychology, 46 (4), 875-893. (doi:10.1348/014466607X174356). (PMID:17535452)

Record type: Article

Abstract

Theories of dehumanization generally assume a single clear-cut, value-free and non-dilemmatic boundary between the categories ‘human’ and ‘animal’. The present study highlights the relevance of dilemmas involved in drawing that boundary. In six focus groups carried out in Romania and Britain, 42 participants were challenged to think about dilemmas pertaining to animal and human life. Four themes were identified: rational autonomy, sentience, speciesism and maintaining materialist and post-materialist values. Sentience made animals resemble humans, while humans' rational autonomy made them distinctive. Speciesism underlay the human participants' prioritization of their own interests over those of animals, and a conservative consensus that the existing social system could not change supported this speciesism when it was challenged. Romanian participants appealed to Romania's lack of modernity and British participants to Britain's modernity to justify such conservatism. The findings suggest that the human–animal boundary is not essentialized; rather it seems that such boundary is constructed in a dilemmatic and post hoc way. Implications for theories of dehumanization are discussed

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Published date: December 2007
Organisations: Psychology

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Local EPrints ID: 359383
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/359383
ISSN: 0144-6665
PURE UUID: af9742e9-64ac-41ca-ae7e-a740c4544b30

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Date deposited: 11 Nov 2013 11:26
Last modified: 19 Jul 2019 21:23

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