Social Justice and Pet Ownership

Social Justice and Pet Ownership - Active

This project advances a research program on how well-being is generated and diminished in everyday life. Pets anchor our investigation of small differences to well-being that stand, through accumulation and ripple effects, to carry major consequences for health inequity.

In this project, barriers to a positive experience of pet ownership among lower-income Canadians will serve as a prism for rethinking the nature of society, the basis for promoting population health, and the meaning of social justice. While previous health research on the benefits of pet ownership has focused mainly on measuring associations, our main concern is unevenness in the preconditions for a positive experience of pet ownership.

By listening closely to Canadians' stories about pet ownership in interviews, and by placing these stories into a broader scholarly, cultural, and political context, we will be re-examining the relationship between poverty and ill-health. We will also translate what we have learned into public debate, thereby improving public understanding of poor mental health, the role of social stressors in health outcomes, and health inequity. In terms of policy and practice, this project is relevant to animal welfare charities, poverty alleviation, housing, and human rights.

Relevant publications:

Rock, M. J., & Degeling, C. (2014). Public Health Ethics and More-than-Human Solidarity. Social Science & Medicine.

Key research personnel:

Taryn Graham (PhD student)
Jovan Lottis (MSW practicum student)
Ann Toohey (PhD student)
Melanie Rock (PI)
Cindy Adams (Co-Investigator, and member of Graham and Toohey PhD Supervisory Committees)
Jennifer Hewson (Toohey PhD Supervisory Committee)
Katrina Milaney (Graham PhD Supervisory Committee)
Chris Degeling (External collaborator)