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Drawing the line between humans and animals: an examination of introductory sociology textbooks

Drawing the line between humans and animals: an examination of introductory sociology textbooks Ever since Mead, sociology has maintained a deep divide between human and non human animals. In effect, Mead constructed humans as having capacities that he saw lacking in animals. Recent research on animals has challenged the traditional ideas of Mead and others by providing evidence of animal intelligence, adaptability, selfawareness, emotionality, communication and culture. This paper examines the human‐animal relationship as presented in Introductory Sociology Textbooks to see if this new research on animals has allowed us to move beyond Mead. We find outdated information and confused thinking on such topics as the relationship between language and culture, the development of the self in animals, and the role of instinct, socialization and culture in animal behavior. We conclude that, with few exceptions, the main function of the treatment of animals in these texts is to affirm the hard line that sociology has always drawn between humans and other species. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy Emerald Publishing

Drawing the line between humans and animals: an examination of introductory sociology textbooks

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References (31)

Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2003 MCB UP Ltd. All rights reserved.
ISSN
0144-333X
DOI
10.1108/01443330310790264
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Ever since Mead, sociology has maintained a deep divide between human and non human animals. In effect, Mead constructed humans as having capacities that he saw lacking in animals. Recent research on animals has challenged the traditional ideas of Mead and others by providing evidence of animal intelligence, adaptability, selfawareness, emotionality, communication and culture. This paper examines the human‐animal relationship as presented in Introductory Sociology Textbooks to see if this new research on animals has allowed us to move beyond Mead. We find outdated information and confused thinking on such topics as the relationship between language and culture, the development of the self in animals, and the role of instinct, socialization and culture in animal behavior. We conclude that, with few exceptions, the main function of the treatment of animals in these texts is to affirm the hard line that sociology has always drawn between humans and other species.

Journal

International Journal of Sociology and Social PolicyEmerald Publishing

Published: Mar 1, 2003

Keywords: Sociology; Research; Culture

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