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Horse matters: Re-examining sustainability through human-domestic animal relationships

Wadham, Helen (2020) Horse matters: Re-examining sustainability through human-domestic animal relationships. Sociologia Ruralis. ISSN 1467-9523

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Abstract

Sociology increasingly recognises that ‘the social’ extends beyond ‘the human.’ The ongoing theoretical integration of animals has extended our understanding of notions like alienation, violence and technology. This paper considers in turn the highly contested concept of sustainability. Focusing on our entangled relationships with domestic animals, particularly horses, extends our critical understanding of sustainability in three ways. First, by recognising horses as social actors, we can challenge the anthropocentrism of sustainability and integrate animals into our analysis of how social systems create and /or resist sustainability claims. Second, in adding species to traditional categories of race, class and gender, we can extend critiques of sustainability by considering how it intersects with relations of power. Third, by exploring how alternative visions of the future emerge from within everyday as well as epic settings and encounters, the paper broadens our understanding of what should be sustained and for whom.

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