Publications

January 2022 – Paper

With an established history of controversy in the UK, the use of animals in science continues to generate significant socio-ethical discussion. Here, the figure of ‘the public’ plays a key role. However, dominant imaginaries of ‘the public’ have significant methodological and ethical problems. Examining these, this paper critiques three ways in which ‘the public’ is currently constructed in relation to animal research; namely as un- or mis-informed; homogenous; and holding fixed and extractable views. In considering an alternative to such imaginaries, we turn to the Mass Observation Project (MOP), a national life-writing project in the UK. In its efforts to generate writing which is typically reflexive, its recognition of the plurality and performativity of identity, and embrace of knowledge as situated yet fluid, the MOP offers lessons for approaching views towards animal research and the role of publics in dialogue around the practice. In considering the MOP, we underline the need to acknowledge the role of method in shaping both what publics are able to articulate, and which positions they are able to articulate from. Finally, we stress the need for future dialogue around animal research to involve publics beyond one-way measurements of ‘public opinion’ and instead work to foster a reciprocity which enables them to act as collaborators in and coproducers of animal research policy, practice, and dialogue.

November 2021 – Paper

Animal research remains a practice marked by controversy and moral dilemma. However, UK science-society dialogues on the issue are increasingly managed via one-way transmissions of information which construct publics as passive and attribute their concerns to a lack of ‘correct’ knowledge. Challenging such assumptions, this paper questions how and why people actively manage their interactions with animal research through entangled practices of knowing and caring. Based on an analysis of writing from the UK Mass Observation Project, this paper explores difficulties and discomforts associated with animal research which can cause strategic withdrawals from engagements with the topic. In doing so, it extends existing concepts of ‘uncomfortable knowledge’ (Rayner) and ‘strategic ignorance’ (McGoey) to develop novel concepts of ‘uncomfortable’ and ‘strategic’ care. Finally, in examining desires to respond to animal research, I engage with Haraway’s notion of ‘response-ability’ to introduce the concepts of ‘responsive caring’ and ‘responsive knowing’.

October 2021 – Project communications

Writing the Nexus

September 2021 – Paper

This thesis explores how the topic of laboratory animal research is related to in everyday life in the UK, providing a sociological analysis of practices of knowing, caring, and constructing necessary biomedical uses of animals. In doing so, it develops the few qualitative studies of societal understandings of animal research, aiming to expand analyses in this area beyond measurement of polarised and static notions of acceptance or opposition. Instead, this thesis approaches understandings of animal research as relational and positional, emerging within particular yet shared social worlds which give the issue meaning in the everyday.

September 2021 – Report

Fish are the third most commonly used protected species in research (Understanding Animal Research, 2021) and are increasingly used in initiatives to engage publics with biomedical research. This workshop was convened in order to explore these developments, share experiences, and assess the challenges and opportunities of including discussion of fish welfare in relevant public engagement activities.

August 2021 – Paper

The increasingly global scope of biomedical research and testing using animals is generating disagreement over the best way to regulate laboratory animal science and care. Despite many common aims, the practices through which political and epistemic authority are allocated in the regulations around animal research varies internationally. This article proposes a framework for understanding and thinking across national differences in the regulation of animal research.

August 2021 – Report

This thesis, written by Tess Skidmore, explores the rehoming of laboratory animals. Drawing on qualitative interviews and a semi-structured questionnaire, the thesis investigates the sociocultural and political importance of the growing attention toward rehoming.

July 2021 – Report

This report describes the design, piloting and evaluation of a 2–3-hour training exercise that uses storytelling to reflect upon the culture of care in animal research establishments.