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The Social Construction of Narratives and Arguments in Animal Welfare Discourse and Debate

By Mukhtar Muhammad, Jessica E. Stokes, Lisa Morgans, Louise Manning

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Stakeholders can hold conflicting values and viewpoints, on what animal welfare is and how a good life is achieved and can signal different problems, or problematize specific aspects of farm animal welfare, and propose different actions or interventions within food supply chains. The aim of the study is to explore the contribution of narrative and argumentative discourse to the social construction and framing of animal welfare and its implications. The methodological approach in this research is composed of two phases with phase 1 being the foundational structured literature search in both academic and grey literature. Phase 2 was the analysis of the secondary data from the literature review to develop a synthesized iterative paper and in doing so develop a typology of five narratives: the ‘farming as a business’ narrative, the ‘religion-based’ narrative, the ‘research, legislative and political based narrative’, the ‘higher welfare’ narrative, and the “animal rights/power-based” narrative. Our findings demonstrate the contestation within the stakeholder discourse of the articulation of why farm animals should have a good life. Performance-related perspectives are rooted in the value-laden language and narratives that shape the arguments regarding notions of good and bad welfare; the emergent positioning of positive welfare for farm animals as well as how to achieve a good life in practice. The novel contribution of this review is the application of an explanatory word-language-discourse-person-situation-environment framework in this specific context to inform future research on animal welfare discourse analysis.

Publication Title Animals
Volume 12
Issue 19
Pages 2582
ISBN/ISSN 2076-2615
DOI 10.3390/ani12192582
Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal welfare
  2. Discourse
  3. Narratives
  4. Sheep