Call for Papers: The Sociology of Animals in Sport – Special Issue of Sociology of Sport Journal

Guest Editor: Kevin Young, Department of Sociology, University of Calgary

ssjThe sociology of sport has much to be proud of when it comes to playing a leading role in public knowledge about a broad panorama of social issues, including social issues that are sensitive, controversial and/or socially urgent and impacting. The role that animals occupy in the “sporting” cultures of the world represents one glaring exception. While this role has not been fully ignored, and while some research is available, surprisingly little of it is sociological. Almost all of the extant work on animals involved in human play, sport, leisure or entertainment comes from other disciplines, a fact that does not reflect flatteringly on our own discipline. As Arnold Arluke observed in the Editor‟s  introduction to the first edition of the groundbreaking (but not sociological) journal Society and Animals almost twenty years ago, “It is ironic that so little research interest has been paid to studying the human experience of them when animals occupy such a commanding presence in our society … as concerns mount and consciousness changes … over the proper use of animals, the findings of researchers will be absolutely crucial to make what is often an emotionally charged and highly polarized debate more reasoned and informed.” In sociological circles at least, and certainly in the sociology of sport, little progress has been made. It is clear that we live in a time of growing sensitivities to how we „engage‟ animals in/as physical culture—as companions, as “game”, as food, as “athletes” to observe, support and bet on, and as sources of mass entertainment. At the center of this debate is the thorny question of how humans should treat their animal companions, and whether the techniques of neutralization that have conventionally been used to rationalize risk, pain, death, or consumption and entertainment of various kinds are as compelling as they once were in a dynamic contemporary culture apparently increasingly concerned with the use, and abuse, of animals. But the mistreatment of animals is merely one (albeit important) dimension of the humans-animals-sport nexus. Therefore, the substantive focus of papers for this special issue on animals in sport may include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • How the use of animals in sport interfaces with culture, social class, religion and/or other social stratifiers;
  • Ethical dimensions of using animals for popular entertainment;
  • Definitional/conceptual ways of thinking about animals in physical and sport-related cultures;
  • Breeding, training and performance practices;
  • The role of the authorities, policy and law in animal sports cultures;
  • Sporting animals and social change;
  • Sport subcultures which feature and/or depend on animal “competitors”; and,
  • Animals, medicalization and experimentation.

Papers, from all international settings where animals feature in sport and leisure pursuits, are solicited. Authors should follow the “Submission Guidelines for Authors” used in every issue of Sociology of Sport Journal found at The paper

should be roughly 8,000 words including endnotes and reference list. Submit original manuscripts online to:

Please address questions to Dr. Kevin Young ( Due date for papers: June 30, 2013

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