Nobody Wants to Eat Them Alive

Ethical Dilemmas and Media Narratives on Domestic Rabbits as Pets and Commodity

by Gayane F. Torosyan & Brian M. Lowe



Book Details

Language : English
Publication Date : 3/10/2017

Format : Softcover
Dimensions : 6x9
Page Count : 66
ISBN : 9781532018275
Format : E-Book
Dimensions : N/A
Page Count : 66
ISBN : 9781532018282

About the Book

For centuries, rabbits have been used as a food commodity. And yet even today when there are millions of families keeping rabbits as domestic companions, the parallel perception of those prey animals as commodity remains equally dominant in public discourse.

In Nobody Wants to Eat Them Alive, authors Gayane Torosyan and Brian Lowe use semiotic analysis to explore the changes occurring in societal perception of rabbits as commodity animals as juxtaposed to their increasing popularity as domestic companions. The study is based on a preliminary hypothesis that rabbits are increasingly perceived and portrayed in the media as domestic pets similar to cats and guinea pigs, which challenges the parallel narrative that views rabbits as farm animals for their meat and fur, or as subjects of medical tests. Operating within a theoretical framework that considers news media as both a socially constructed reflection of reality and recorder history, the study examines the dynamics of change in numbers of coded new narratives drawn as a convenience sample of one thousand published articles from a database of news and features published worldwide between 1990 and 2011.

From commodity to companion, a shift in perspective can herald a dramatic shift in progressive ethical treatment. Thus for rabbits, such a shift signals a trend toward more humane practices and a decline in exploitative practices such as slaughter and laboratory experiments—and perhaps points toward the promising trend of a more humane society in general.

About the Author

Gayane F. Torosyan is currently associate professor and chair of the Communication and Media Department at the State University of New York College at Oneonta. Born in Yerevan, Armenia, Dr. Torosyan graduated from Yerevan State University with a five-year degree in mathematics, and she later earned her master’s degree and PhD at the University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She has worked in education and international humanitarian aid agencies while living in Armenia, and now teaches journalism, communication and media courses after working as a news and public affairs reporter in the United States.

Brian M. Lowe received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sociology from Queen’s University at Kingston, Ontario, and he earned his PhD in sociology from the University of Virginia. Dr. Lowe’s research and teaching interests include sociological theories, animal and society, and cultural and comparative-historical sociology, and he has published several articles and is author of Emerging Moral Vocabularies: The Creation and Establishment of New Forms of Moral and Ethical Meanings (Lexington Books, 2006).