More-than-human geographies and young people: generational consciousness and pet ownership
Dr Mark Lucherini, Lecturer in Human Geography, Keele University
Dr Daniel Allen, Lecturer in Human Geography, Keele University
Professor Clare Holdsworth, Professor of Social Geography, Keele University
Cameron Causer, postgraduate student
Main contributor: Dr Mark Lucherini
The significance of pets in young people’s lives is well documented. The relationship has come under particular scrutiny in recent years due to the increase in family pet ownership during the Covid-19 pandemic; and acknowledgement in both popular and academic literature of the positive impacts on well-being associated with companion animals. Against this backdrop of the heightened recognition of the significance of pet ownership the particular relationship that young people have with companion animals is an emerging theme in youth research. Researchers are identifying a generational change towards relationships with pets; yet at the same time young people are facing structural barriers in being able to fulfil the benefits of pet ownership (Graham et al 2019). In this paper we consider how barriers towards realizing an emerging generational consciousness are articulated using a more-than-human framework. Our empirical research explores attitudes to pets on a university campus in the UK, which traditionally have strict no pet policies. Using a mixed methods approach that combines quantitative and interactive qualitative methods (including interviews and pet encounter sessions) we explore how young people identify their relationship with companion animals. We examine how views on responsibility to the self, community and more-than-human actors are negotiated through claims and counter claims to open up a University campus to pets.