Dealing with Ambivalence: Farmers' and Consumers' Perceptions of Animal Welfare in Livestock Breeding

  • Hein Te Velde
  • Noelle Aarts
  • Cees Van Woerkum
Article

Abstract

The results of an empirical study intoperceptions of the treatment of farm animals inthe Netherlands are presented. A qualitativeapproach, based on in-depth interviews withmeat livestock farmers and consumers was chosenin order to assess motivations behindperceptions and to gain insight into the waypeople deal with possible discrepancies betweentheir perceptions and their daily practices.Perceptions are analyzed with the help of aframe of reference, which consists ofvalues, norms, convictions, interests, andknowledge.

The perceptions of the interviewed farmersare quite consistent and without exceptionpositive: according to them, nothing is wrongwith animal welfare in livestock breeding. Theperceptions of the consumers we interviewed aremore divergent, but generally negative. Bothgroups show ambivalence as a result ofdiscrepancies between perceptions and behavior.Although the consumers share the impressionthat the living conditions of livestock animalsare far from optimal, most of them still buyand eat meat from the meat industry. Thefarmers believe the welfare of their animals isgood, but, as frequent defensive utterancesshow, they feel uncomfortable with expressed orunexpressed accusations of mistreating animals.The ways the respondents deal with thisambivalence were analysed by drawing ontheories of dissonance reduction and distancing devices.

Catherine and Raphaël Larrère(Larrère and Larrère, 2000) argue thatanimal rearing is a hierarchical relationshipwhose rules are to be found in the fiction of adomestic contract. We argue that the questionis not whether there should be a domesticcontract, because such a contract seems alreadyaccepted. However, since values and normsdiffer widely, not only among meat livestockfarmers and consumers, but also amongconsumers, the question remains as to whosevalues and norms should form the basis of thedomestic contract.

ambivalence animal welfare frame of reference perceptions 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

REFERENCES

  1. Appadurai, A., The Social Life of Things (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1986).Google Scholar
  2. Bernard, H. R., Research Methods in Anthropology. Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches (SAGE Publications, Thousand Oaks, 1994).Google Scholar
  3. Bentham, J., “An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation,” in F. Rosen and J. H. Burns (eds.), The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1983).Google Scholar
  4. Elias, N. and J. L. Scotson, The Established and the Outsiders (Frank Cass and Co., London, 1965).Google Scholar
  5. Elias, N., The Civilizing Process, Vol. 1: The History of Manners (Urizen Books, New York and Blackwell, Oxford, 1978).Google Scholar
  6. Festinger, L., Conflict, Decision and Dissonance (Stanford [s.n.], 1964).Google Scholar
  7. Goffi, Y., Le philosophe et ses animaux (J. Chambon, Nimes, 1994).Google Scholar
  8. Harris, M., Culture, People, Nature; An Introduction to general Anthropology (Harper and Row, Publishers, New York, 1980).Google Scholar
  9. Kickert, W. J. M., E. J. Klijn, and J. F. M. Koppenjan (eds.), Managing Complex Networks. Strategies for the Public Sector (Sage Publications, London, 1997).Google Scholar
  10. Larrère, C. and R. Larrère, “Animal Rearing as a Domestic Contract?” Journal of Agriculture and Environmental Ethics 12(1) (2000), 51–58.Google Scholar
  11. Mauss, M., The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies (1st ed. 1925) (Routledge, London, 1970).Google Scholar
  12. Midgley, M., Animals and Why They Matter (University of Georgia Press, 1984).Google Scholar
  13. Rathenau Institute, Van micro-elektronica naar mega-ICT (From micro-electronics to mega-ICT) (Rathenau Institute, Den Haag, jaarverslag 1999).Google Scholar
  14. Rein, M. and D. A. Schön, “Frame-Reflective Policy Discourse,” Beleidsanalyse 15(4) (1986), 4–18.Google Scholar
  15. Rekom, J., van, Corporate Identity; Development of the Concept and a Measurement Instrument (Erasmus Universiteit, dissertatie, Rotterdam, 1995).Google Scholar
  16. Serpell, J., In the Company of Animals. A Study of the Human-Animal Relationships (Blackwell, London, 1986).Google Scholar
  17. Silverman, J., Interpreting Qualitative Data. Methods for Analysing Talk, Text and Interaction (Sage Publications, London, 2001).Google Scholar
  18. Te Velde, H.M., M. N. C. Aarts, and C.M. J. vanWoerkum, “Eten maar niet willen weten; veehouders en consumenten over de omgang met dieren in de veehouderij,” in H. M. Te Velde, M. N. C. Aarts, C. M. J. vanWoerkum, C. Hanning, and G. C. J. Smink (eds.), Hoe oordelen we over de veehouderij? (What Do We Think of Livestock Farming?) (Rathenau Institute, Den Haag, 2001).Google Scholar
  19. Wenz, P. S., Environmental Justice (State University of New York Press, Albany, 1988).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hein Te Velde
    • 1
  • Noelle Aarts
    • 1
  • Cees Van Woerkum
    • 1
  1. 1.Social Science: Communication and Innovation StudiesWageningen UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations