6) Research Project – Learning, enculturation, or socialization aspects.

Elizabeth C. Hirschman discusses in her article “Consumers and Their Animal Companions” the complex emotional relationships between pet and owner. During this discussion she touches on some key aspects of the process that people go through when learning the cultural and social norms of pet ownership. For example person who was interviewed expressed a different social norms concerning whether the pet was allowed indoors or kept outdoors. For example some dogs and cats were outdoors only animals while in other cases they were indoors only animals. In still other cases they were allowed to go outside when needed and allowed indoors as well. She also explores the social and cultural norms concerning where animals are allowed inside of the home. For example some were restricted to the kitchen and the den. Others were allowed to sleep in the owner’s bed while some owners expressed disgust at idea of allowing an animal into their bed. According to Hirschman most people interviewed did hold a cultural norm concerning animals not being allowed onto surfaces where food was prepared for consumption.

Professor Hirschman also discusses two aspects of pets being used for enculturation. First is the idea that of a family obtaining a pet to teach their child or children what it means to care for something other than themselves. She explains that could be considered early preparation for raising their own children. Hirschman also touches on how some families tend to always focus on the same breed or in some cases the same color of animal. This legacy is then sometimes passed down through the generations.

Hirschman, Elizabeth C. “Consumers and Their Animal Companions.” Journal of Consumer Research. 20.4 (March 1994) 616-632.


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