Welfarism, abolitionism and the gift theory

The question of “animal welfare” which has been engaging hundreds of scientists and millions of euros of financing for more than 30 years, is now integrated as one aspect of work amongst many others in the livestock industry. However, “animal welfare” legislation is powerless to impede the banal violence of the industrial organisation of work.

This violence is a cause of suffering for farmers, but also for a lot of members of the public. These latter are reacting against the violent treatment of animals either by promoting other types of relations with animals, or by demanding, in the name of ethics, the abolition of our relations and the development of alternatives to the ties of domestication, including the abolition of meat and the liberation of animals, including pets.

My research demonstrates the importance of our relations with animal within social ties. Our relations with animals, just like our relations with other humans, are based on the tryptic put forward by Mauss: giving – receiving - returning. This is why it is not helpful to “liberate” animals by omitting to pay the immeasurable debt that we have to them, rather, we need a return to the gift cycle.

Further reading:

> Bien-être animal et travail en élevage, Editions Educagri, 2004

cf. scientific and other publications on this subject, in particular on gift relations with animals.

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Aurélie Verdon

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Mehdi Mahjoub

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Jocelyne Porcher

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Philippe Deschamps

Jocelyne Porcher - INRA
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