Australian Meat Consumers’ Understandings of Farm Animal Welfare: A Seminar with Emily Buddle

For the Food Values Research Group’s second seminar of 2018, we are pleased to welcome our own Emily Buddle!

Australian Meat Consumers’ Understandings of Farm Animal Welfare

Ms Emily Buddle, PhD Candidate, Food Values Research Group, School of Humanities, University of Adelaide

Emily Buddle

In developed Western societies, raising animals for meat has come under significant public scrutiny in recent decades. Much of the scrutiny is centred on different understandings amongst the meat value chain towards the concept of “animal welfare”. Consumers have essentially relinquished their involvement, and thus their control over how an animal is produced, relying on other members of the value chain to grow their meat. By relinquishing control, consumers have developed different understandings of farm animal welfare to those involved in producing livestock, attributing to the scrutiny faced by the livestock industry. There is a sense of urgency within the meat value chain to come to a consistent and equitable definition of animal welfare in order for them to maintain their “social license to operate”. However, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the understandings of various stakeholders within the meat value chain towards animal welfare are very different. These understandings are shaped through a variety of social and cultural phenomena, such as their interactions with people within their lives as well as media, activism and advocacy. My research uses focus groups and interviews to explore the complexity of consumer understandings about farm animal welfare, emphasising that such understandings are not solely centred on concerns about the animal itself, but extend into a range of other social and cultural values. It uncovers how the Australian print press has framed the issue of farm animal welfare and presents the opinion of meat consumers towards the work of animal welfare activists, particularly on social media. My dissertation summarises that consumer understandings of animal welfare are expressions of their values and for the livestock industry to continue producing meat, they must work towards the communication of shared values.

Emily Buddle is a PhD candidate within the School of Humanities at the University of Adelaide. She has research interests in community understandings of agriculture and food. Her previous research has explored the use of social media by animal welfare activists in campaigning against livestock agriculture, while her current work explores how farm animal welfare is communicated to and understood across members of the community.

When: Friday, 16th of March, 12-1 PM

Where: Ira Raymond Room, Barr Smith Library, North Terrace Campus, University of Adelaide (click here for campus map)

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