Beyond Mead: Symbolic Interaction between Humans and Felines

Beyond Mead: Symbolic Interaction between Humans and Felines 65 Beyond Mead: Symbolic Interaction between Humans and Felines Janet M. Alger1 SIENA COLLEGE Steven F. Alger COLLEGE OF ST. ROSE Recent research on the cognitive abilities and emotional capacities of animals has fueled the animal rights movement and renewed debate over the differences between human and non-human animals. This debate has not been central to sociology, although George Herbert Mead drew a very hard line between humans and animals by asserting that the latter were not capable of symbolic interaction. Sociologists are now beginning to ques- tion this assumption, and this article falls within this new line of research. We begin by presenting alternative interpretations of symbolic interaction that allow for the possibility of such activity in non-human animals. We review recent research on symbolic interaction between humans and dogs, and we present our own research findings on human-feline interaction. We conclude that there is growing evidence that symbolic interaction is widely distributed throughout the animal kingdom, and that it enables animals to survive more effectively in a wide variety of environments. In their book analyzing the animal rights movement, Jasper and Nelkin (1992) see the movement as rooted in the breaking down of the boundaries that http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Society & Animals Brill

Beyond Mead: Symbolic Interaction between Humans and Felines

Society & Animals, Volume 5 (1): 65 – Jan 1, 1997

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© 1997 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1063-1119
eISSN
1568-5306
DOI
10.1163/156853097X00222
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

65 Beyond Mead: Symbolic Interaction between Humans and Felines Janet M. Alger1 SIENA COLLEGE Steven F. Alger COLLEGE OF ST. ROSE Recent research on the cognitive abilities and emotional capacities of animals has fueled the animal rights movement and renewed debate over the differences between human and non-human animals. This debate has not been central to sociology, although George Herbert Mead drew a very hard line between humans and animals by asserting that the latter were not capable of symbolic interaction. Sociologists are now beginning to ques- tion this assumption, and this article falls within this new line of research. We begin by presenting alternative interpretations of symbolic interaction that allow for the possibility of such activity in non-human animals. We review recent research on symbolic interaction between humans and dogs, and we present our own research findings on human-feline interaction. We conclude that there is growing evidence that symbolic interaction is widely distributed throughout the animal kingdom, and that it enables animals to survive more effectively in a wide variety of environments. In their book analyzing the animal rights movement, Jasper and Nelkin (1992) see the movement as rooted in the breaking down of the boundaries that

Journal

Society & AnimalsBrill

Published: Jan 1, 1997

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