Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 317428
Title Dealing with Ambivalence : Farmers' and Consumers' Perceptions of Animal Welfare in Livestock Breeding
Author(s) Velde, H. te; Aarts, N.; Woerkum, C. van
Source Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 15 (2002)2. - ISSN 1187-7863 - p. 203 - 219.
Department(s) Communication Science
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2002
Abstract The results of an empirical study into perceptions of the treatment of farm animals in the Netherlands are presented. A qualitative approach, based on in-depth interviews with meat livestock farmers and consumers was chosen in order to assess motivations behind perceptions and to gain insight into the way people deal with possible discrepancies between their perceptions and their daily practices. Perceptions are analyzed with the help of a frame of reference, which consists of values, norms, convictions, interests, and knowledge. The perceptions of the interviewed farmers are quite consistent and without exception positive: according to them, nothing is wrong with animal welfare in livestock breeding. The perceptions of the consumers we interviewed are more divergent, but generally negative. Both groups show ambivalence as a result of discrepancies between perceptions and behavior. Although the consumers share the impression that the living conditions of livestock animals are far from optimal, most of them still buy and eat meat from the meat industry. The farmers believe the welfare of their animals is good, but, as frequent defensive utterances show, they feel uncomfortable with expressed or unexpressed accusations of mistreating animals. The ways the respondents deal with this ambivalence were analysed by drawing on theories of dissonance reduction and distancing devices. Catherine and Raphaël Larrère (Larrère and Larrère, 2000) argue that animal rearing is a hierarchical relationship whose rules are to be found in the fiction of a domestic contract. We argue that the question is not whether there should be a domestic contract, because such a contract seems already accepted. However, since values and norms differ widely, not only among meat livestock farmers and consumers, but also among consumers, the question remains as to whose values and norms should form the basis of the domestic contract.
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