Sociology of Pets: Understanding the Animal Relations


Clifton D. Bryant stated that our society is not composed of humans alone and other animals are present in our lives. He argued that because human communities are infused with other animals, sociology could benefit greatly from investigating this observable fact. Humans eat the flesh of many animals and use their skin and hairs and many pet owners keep their pets with them. Thus, for Bryant other animals are essential to the investigation of society, and he urged sociologists to do so. It is interesting that sociology has traditionally sought to limit the scope of sociological investigation to humans alone.

Pets are the part of family

George Herbert Mead – The founder of symbolic interactionism, talks about how animals are outside the scope of sociological inquiry due to their lack of awareness, imagination, and language. Humans’ views and consciousness rise via socialization this method includes language, which is why non-lingual creatures cannot possess either or engage in meaningful interaction. These perspectives continue to dominate sociology, ignoring to study of animals and how humans interact with them.

According to Karl Marx animals had no place in classical sociology, who believed that, unlike humans, animals are immediately one with their life activity. However, sociology did not completely ignore researching animals, like the classical sociologist Max Weber said that human relationships with other animals could be studied and would be suitable subject matter for sociology, but he never really researched or wrote about it. Although other animals are still considered unrelated in sociology, yes there is certain progress that has been made.

Charles Darwin in one of his famous works of Emotions in Man and Animals argues that it is important to study people’s non-verbal communications and symbolic interactions as gestures. Where he talked about the dog’s behaviour like when he meets a stranger or his intention to attack its enemy.

Theorists like Frances Power Cobbe, Annie Marion MacLean, Harriet Martineau, and Roscoe Pound have worked on the relationship between humans and dogs and their characteristics.


People domesticated many species, including dogs, cows, sheep, and horses, for practical reasons such as helpers, meat sources and so on. 

Through the social constructionism lens, modern pet culture has been shaped by society’s standards, specifically in pop culture, social class, and gender. Social constructionism allows us to examine how we define and comprehend animals, particularly those we call “pets.” This viewpoint assists us in identifying the process by which we come to take certain understandings (in this case, about pets) for granted.

Advertisements and films shape our perceptions of animals and pets. People begin to recognize the advantages of owning a pet as both a companion and a status symbol, which is promoted by the media and pet culture. There are a lot of incidents talked about pet owners killing their own pets.

Stuart, Shewe, and Gunderson examine the place of Cows in the capitalist system and its ramifications for their lives as well as that of the farmers who keep them by extending Marx’s concept of alienation from “species being” to cows used in the dairy business. They note that the removal of their milk and calves, the limitation of production, the deprivation of their freedom to move about and raise their young, and the reduction of their socialization with other animals and people all correlate to Marx’s definition of alienation.


Bowlby’s attachment theory addresses relationships between pets and their owners. When a person is attached, he is inclined to seek contact with a particular figure. When children exhibit attachment behaviour patterns, mothers respond in kind by engaging in maternal caregiving. This attachment theory determines the bonds that exist between individuals and their domestic animals, lending support to the theory that how people treat their pets is a form of parenting behaviour. Some do this by using baby talk with their pets, referring to them as “my baby” or “my child,” and holding them like an infant.

Pets are increasingly regarded as family members around the world. In fact, millions of people around the world adore their pets, taking them for walks, playing with them, and even having a conversation with them. And there is evidence that connection to pets is beneficial to human health and even helps in community building.

According to several studies, Kids who grow up with a dog or any other pet they own at their place develop more love, affection, and lower levels of stress. People are increasingly including their pets in family events and parties. They are so important to the whole family This is especially more prevalent and important in single-parent households, where people assume that dogs are valuable companions for children. Many people will consider friends, passed away relatives, and pets to be members of their family. 

According to one of the surveys done by pet food brands, they found the majority of cat and dog owners believed their pets are part of the family. 30% include their pet’s name on birthday and Christmas cards. 20 per cent call themselves their pet’s parents that is mummy or daddy. 15% of cat and dog owners took off for taking care of their pets as they were ill.

One of the news that got my eye was an Italian woman who recently won the right to use his family sick leave to care for her pet dog as it was ill, yes, gradually we are becoming more sensitized towards animals and it is great progress that our society is bringing a good change. This is especially important for families and households, as people increasingly consider pets to be members of the family.


Effective work demonstrates sociology’s ability to identify unethical animal treatments within modern social structures.  Human well-being is intrinsically tied to the survival of all other species. Instead, this goal encourages the mistreatment of animals and here domesticated animals are the ones who are the most exploited social group. We can trace this violence historically and it has been linked to an increase in meat consumption.

Many animal welfare institutions have emerged, such as PETA, which encourages people to avoid eating meat and become vegan. In India, some of the famous animal organizations are People for Animals, Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Centre (SGACC), Visakha Society for the Protection and Care of Animals (VSPCA) Wildlife Trust of India (WTI). 

To achieve a society inside which humans understand each other and respect the lives and interests of animals, progressive cultural changes must be implemented. Sociology is blessed with methods of constructing knowledge that has proven useful in academically challenging established attitudes toward animals.  Animals should be welcomed into the social domain, and the already well-established view that they enrich society through meaningful interaction with humans must be expanded.


  • Form, W. and Faris, Robert E.L. (2021, March 4). sociology. Encyclopedia Britannica.
  • Jean E. Veevers PhD (1985) The Social Meaning of Pets, Marriage & Family Review, 8:3-4, 11-30, DOI: 10.1300/J002v08n03_03
  • Peggs, K. (2012). Sociology and Animals. In: Animals and Sociology. The Palgrave Macmillan Animal Ethics Series. Palgrave Macmillan, London.
  • Petersen, A. T. L. (2011). From fur baby to chick magnet: A sociological view of dogs and their people.
  • Peggs, K. (2013). The ‘animal-advocacy agenda’: Exploring sociology for non-human animals. The Sociological Review61(3), 591-606.
  • McHugh, C. (1980). Social Darwinism: Science and Myth in Anglo-American Social Thought.
  • Vidović, V. V., Štetić, V. V., & Bratko, D. (1999). Pet ownership, type of pet and socio-emotional development of school children. Anthrozoös12(4), 211-217.
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Anisha Hans is currently interning with the Sociology group and recently graduated in MA Sociology from Gd Goenka University. Therefore, I am a quick learner and not afraid to take risks and make mistakes. My experience as a budding sociologist is multifarious and like to work with people around me. I am left-liberal in my ideology.