Sociology & Animals Series 1 – Strategies for Success in the Sociological Study of Animals and Society

 

Series 1 of the Sociology & Animals Podcast is a podcast series hosted by Dr. Corey Wrenn, the 2019/2020 Chair of the Animals and Society Section of the American Sociological Association. This series interviews folks using species-inclusive sociology in a variety of academic and applied fields of research, work, and study. Our guests share how they came to the subdiscipline and to offer research tips and informal career advice for folks interested in pursuing animals and society professionally. Although many of the guests in this season are involved with the American section, this season also includes guests working in other parts of the world, such as Dr. Kristof Dhont who hails from Belgium and Dr. Zoei Sutton of Australia. Be sure to listen to the final episode, episode 11, for a summary of advice shared across the series.

 

Episode 1 – Trent Grassian June 15, 2020

                        

Dr. Grassian earned a PhD in Social Policy with the University of Kent. In this episode, he discusses how scholars can integrate social policy, intersectionality, and sociological theory for a variety of academic and applied career paths. Folks interested in pursuing a degree outside of the US may also find this episode useful. 

Dr. Grassian conducted research with non-profit organizations promoting meat reduction and veg*nism, in the largest study of its kind and has given presentations all over the world about the project. The project is mixed methods, incorporating a longitudinal survey, focus groups and individual interviews with campaign staff and participants. The full dissertation is freely available online, as well as a summary report. He also contributed to the seminal volume Environmental Nutrition (ed. Joan Sabaté), authoring a chapter entitled Food Policy: Where does environmental nutrition fit in?, and has additional publications currently in the pipeline.

His other research interests include behavior change, systems thinking approaches, humane education and policy and intervention effectiveness. You can follow his work via his blog, For Us All, or get in touch with him via email.

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Episode 2 – Jessica Greenebaum June 17, 2020

                        

This episode discusses the importance of mentorship, developing a strategy for employment outside of academia, and applying classical sociological theory and Black feminist theory to Critical Animal Studies. Dr. Greenebaum is a professor of sociology at Central Connecticut State University. She specializes in feminism, inequalities, and animal rights activism. Her research covers issues related to vegan feminism and vegan identity. Her research is available on Academia.edu and Researchgate.net

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Episode 3 – Richard York June 17, 2020

                        

In this episode, we chat about the deeply intersectional nature of human/nonhuman relations and environmental issues. Dr. York also highlights the importance of thinking historically in our discipline with regard to how these issues have emerged over time. We also talk about the importance of centering our sense of justice in our academic endeavors. 

Dr. Richard York is a professor of Sociology and Environmental Studies with the University of Oregon. He is an environmental sociologist whose work combines human ecology and political economy. He is both a theorist and an empirical researcher, who primarily uses quantitative methods. One focus of his research is on how the structural characteristics of societies, including demographic, economic, and technological factors, influence levels of resource consumption and pollution emissions. Additionally, he examines the connections between animals and societies. He also studies the sociology, philosophy, and history of science.

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Episode 4 – Casey J. Riordan June 18, 2020

                        

In this episode, we discuss the connections between communication studies and sociology, how section membership can nurture our interests and a variety of career paths, and the importance of bridging academics and activists with public sociology. Casey also outlines her work with the scholar-activism nonprofit, Faunalytics.

Casey Riordan spent five years working as a communications specialist in the U.S., U.K., and Australia before following her heart and dedicating her career to the animal advocacy movement. In 2018, Casey was accepted to New York University’s inaugural Animal Studies M.A. program, where she became involved in the Animals & Society Section of the American Sociological Association first as a conference committee member and then as the newsletter editor. Upon graduating from NYU in 2020, Casey joined Faunalytics as their Communications & Development Manager, where she works closely with advocates and academics in the animal protection movement.

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Dr. Zoei Sutton June 22, 2020

                        

This episode discusses new sociological research on species-inclusive culture and the social construction of species. Dr. Sutton also discusses some strategies for survival in the discipline, including networking, building relationships, and adopting a broad sociological training. We also chat about the differences between animal law and sociology as well as new developments in sociology for other animals.

Dr Zoei Sutton is a sociologist specialising in qualitative research with both human and nonhuman animals. Dr. Sutton draws on her sociological expertise to analyse the relationships between human and nonhuman animals through qualitative interviews, observation and media analysis. Through this research she has examined both micro and macro levels of society to understand the nuances of everyday relationships as experienced by participants, and how these reflect and inform a broader social context. Her research interests include critical animal studies, social inclusion, the complexity and intersectionality of inequality and inclusive methodologies. Her research is available on  Academia.edu  and  Researchgate.net.

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Dr. David Nibert June 22, 2020

                        

In this episode, Dr. Nibert shares his path to the field beginning in 1983 and the institutional barriers the subfield has faced through its formation to present day.

Professor David Nibert is a scholar/activist who teaches courses on animals and society, global injustice, the sociology of law, and social stratification. He has worked as a tenant organizer, as a community activist, and in the prevention of mistreatment and violence against devalued groups. He is the author of several books: Animal Oppression and Human Violence: DomesecrationCapitalism and Global Conflict (Columbia University Press); Animal Rights/Human Rights: Entanglements of Oppression and Liberation (Rowman/Littlefield) and a two-volume work titled Animal Oppression and Capitalism (Praeger Press).

For additional commentary on the importance of Nibert’s work, see this complementary video by sociologist Dr. Roger Yates.

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Dr. Kristof Dhont June 25, 2020

                        

This episode covers the growth of animal studies in social psychology and spotlights emerging research, such as that investigating the “meat paradox” and vegan feminism. We also chat about some useful strategies for finding support in academia and getting your work recognized. Learn more about the upcoming Animal Advocacy Conference here.

Dr. Kristof Dhont is a Senior Lecturer and Director of Graduate Studies (Research) in the School of Psychology at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England. He is the founder and director of SHARKLab, dedicated to the study human intergroup and human-animal relations. He currently serves as Associate Editor for the journal Group Processes & Intergroup Relations (GPIR) and as Consulting Editor for the European Journal of Personality (EJP). Kristof’s interests include the situational and personality factors that drive and sustain intergroup biases such as ethnic and gender-based prejudice as well as speciesism, with a special interest in social-ideological variables (e.g. social dominance orientation and authoritarianism) and identity-based processes. He investigates the factors shaping people’s perceptions and thinking about animals, the complexities and paradoxes in human-animal relations, and the moral psychology of eating and exploiting animals. You can learn more about this fascinating research in his 2020 book, Why We Love and Exploit Animals: Bridging Insights from Academia and Advocacy (Dhont & Hodson eds., Routledge).

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Loredana Loy June 26, 2020

                        

In this episode, we highlight the student experience. As we discuss how activists might realize their dream to be better advocates through sociological training, Loredana shares her unique path to animal studies from a nonprofit background in animal and environmental advocacy. She also offers insight on the importance of networking and using the growing interest in climate change as a platform for addressing speciesism. Loredana has been active with the ASA Animals & Society Section for a decade and operates the section newsletter and social media. She received her BS in Economics from the Romanian Academy Of Economic Studies, her MA in Sociology & Media from New York University, and is currently completing her PhD at Cornell University in Sociology. Her research interests include the politics of climate change, social movements, institutional discourse, organizations, and animals and society.

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Dr. Nik Taylor  June 29, 2020

                         

This episode offers a deep conversation on the methodological future and theoretical past of the discipline. Dr. Taylor also discusses publication politics and the balance that scholars might seek to achieve with their pursuit of social justice-oriented research and a secure career.

Dr. Nik Taylor is a sociologist who researches human relationships with other species. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Human Services and Social Work at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Dr. Taylor came to Animal Studies following years of volunteer work in animal shelters and in domestic violence service provision. She has worked at Universities in the UK (Manchester Metropolitan University, the University of Salford, University of Edinburgh, and Oxford University), Australia (CQUniversity and Flinders) and New Zealand. Learn more about her work on her blog, Academia.edu, and ResearchGate.

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Dr. Roger Yates June 29, 2020

                        

This episode discusses the possibilities of radical vegan sociology for activist-scholars. Dr. Yates also chats about some useful sociological theories such as critical theory, zemiology, green criminology, and phenomenology. Lastly, we consider how reading, conferences, and maintaining an online presence can be of benefit to research and job opportunities.

Dr. Roger Yates is a lecturer in sociology at University College Dublin and the University of Wales, specializing in animal rights. He is a former executive committee member of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV), a former Animal Liberation Front (ALF) press officer, and a co-founder of the Fur Action Group. He currently runs the Vegan Information Project in Dublin and co-hosts Common Ground, an animal rights philosophy program. Dr. Yates was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment in 1987 for conspiracy to commit criminal damage on behalf of the ALF. After his release in 1990, he began an academic study of animal protectionism and social movements, obtaining his PhD in 2005 on the subject of human/non-human relations. Dr. Yates maintains a blog on his web site, On Human Relations with Other Sentient Beings and was a leading contributor to Animal Rights Zone (ARZone). Dr. Roger Yates also maintains an active Youtube channel.

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Dr. Corey Wrenn June 29, 2020

                        

In this epilogue, Dr. Wrenn summarizes the lessons learned from our ten guests with regard to institutional barriers, positive points on which new scholars might capitalize, and some concrete strategies for success. Dr. Wrenn also offers some her own personal experiences as a working-class girl from Appalachia with a passion for social justice. Yes, that’s a cat! Ms. Trudy makes a very vocal appearance. 

Dr. Wrenn is Lecturer of Sociology with the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research (SSPSSR) and Co-Director of the Centre for the Study of Social and Political Movements at the University of Kent. She served as council member with the American Sociological Association’s Animals & Society section (2013-2016), was elected Chair in 2018, and co-founded the International Association of Vegan Sociologists in 2020. She serves as Book Review Editor to Society & Animals and is a member of The Vegan Society’s Research Advisory Committee. In July 2013, she founded the Vegan Feminist Network, an academic-activist project engaging intersectional social justice praxis. She is the author of A Rational Approach to Animal Rights: Extensions in Abolitionist Theory (Palgrave MacMillan 2016), Piecemeal Protest: Animal Rights in the Age of Nonprofits (University of Michigan Press 2019), and Animals in Irish Society (SUNY Press 2021).

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