People & Professions

Determining the extent to which changes in professional laboratory roles challenge the stability of the animal research nexus

Understanding the animal research nexus requires recognition of how the professional roles of laboratory staff are constituted, enacted and challenged. The People and Professions Project investigates how professionals working in the laboratory, including veterinarians, are seen by wider publics and, conversely, how those who work in the lab construct images of the public.

Two primary programmes of work are planned. The first is to analyse results from a Mass Observation Archive commission to explore how ‘publics’ construct animal research, and to consider whether this method has potential for overcoming traditional methodological pitfalls. This will be explored via a PhD studentship awarded to Renelle McGlacken. The second is to use in-depth interviews and ethnographic observation to better understand the role of Named Veterinary Surgeons who work in the animal laboratory. The overall aim of this research is to consider the extent to which changes in professional laboratory roles are challenging the stability of the animal research nexus, and to identify  implications for the future of governance, training and public engagement. This work is led Dr Pru Hobson-West at the University of Nottingham. 

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The application of genome editing to animal research connects to a wide variety of policy concerns and public conversations. In this paper, we explore three key roles that publics are playing in the development of genome editing techniques applied to animals in biomedical research: as publics, as populations, and as participants.

The Mass Observation Project is in the care of the University of Sussex and based at The Keep in Brighton. It represents a unique repository of rich textual accounts which span the breadth of ‘everyday life’. These accounts are produced by the MOP’s voluntary correspondents, who are referred to as ‘Mass Observers’, and whose writings are guided by ‘Directives’ which entail a set of questions or prompts on a particular topic.

In Summer 2016, the University of Nottingham commissioned the first Directive on animal research, and analysis has now begun. In June 2019 Renelle McGlacken and Pru Hobson-West co-organised a workshop to critically consider some of the larger conceptual and methodological themes raised by the use of Mass Observation as a research tool, particularly (but not exclusively) when researching animals and interspecies relations.

We are delighted to share our report of the workshop and would welcome any feedback. Please feel free to share the report with your colleagues and wider networks.

These notes summarise some key topics of conversation at the workshop 'Out of the lab, into the field: Exploring animal research at POLEs', held on the 30th Sept-1st Oct, 2019, at Keble College, Oxford. Please feel free to share these notes with your colleagues and wider networks.

While sociologists of medicine have focused their efforts on understanding human health, illness, and medicine, veterinary medical practice has not yet caught their attention in any sustained way. In this critical review article, we use insights from the sociology of diagnosis literature to explore veterinary practice, and aim to demonstrate the importance of animals to sociological understandings of health, illness and disease. We hope that this work encourages more focus on the veterinary profession, and a better understanding of the role of the vet inside and outside the laboratory. 

The issues of openness, transparency and public engagement about animal research have taken focus in several different countries in recent years. This open access paper gives an account of a two-day-long, international expert forum on this topic.

This paper draws on ethnographic work with laboratory animal technologists to offer insights into the skills required to study human–animal relations and the role played by storytelling in negotiating the contested moral economies of animal research.

Vets play an important role in a wide variety of social contexts, including in ‘non-therapeutic’ roles, for example in facilitating the use of animals in sport or for food production. This paper focuses on a further non-therapeutic example, namely the role of the vet in laboratory animal research

This poster introduces work exploring how publics understand animal research using the written accounts of voluntary correspondents to the Mass Observation Project (MOP), which will seek to capture the sociocultural contexts that inform ethical and technoscientific judgements.

The poster describes our focus on professional laboratory roles, using the example of the Named Veterinary Surgeon, exploring the complex and potentially conflicted responsibilities of these individuals.

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