Deadline for papers is NOW 31 MARCH 2017

Gender, work, organisations and nonhuman animals


Special Issue Editors: Kate Sang, Heriot Watt University, Scotland

Lindsay Hamilton, Keele University, England

Janet Sayers, Massey University, New Zealand


Organizational studies have traditionally focused solely on humans within organizations, neglecting and marginalizing other species as objects, food, symbols and resources. While such humanist hegemony is understandable from a pragmatic perspective, the absence of other species from organizational studies is problematic particularly as recent empirical research has shown the significance of other creatures to the meaningful experience of human work and as organizers in their own right. Ants, for example, organize traffic in bottleneck situations (Dussutour et al, 2004), exhibit managerial behaviours in arranging their living accommodation and interacting within their community (Sanders and Gordon, 2003). Similarly, the large and variegated literature on canines has pointed to their significant roles in military and law-enforcement as well as in therapeutic and affective roles within schools, hospitals and other care settings (see for example, Knight 2005; Sanders 2006; Taylor, 2007 and 2010). There are promising signs the work of animals is starting to get the critical attention it deserves with, for example, a new book on the work of animals by Kendra Coulter (2015) recently being published. The acting capacities of animals and their different forms of organizational agency provide the mandate for their inclusion in research and while interest in this is undoubtedly growing within organization studies, (see, for example, the recent special issue of Organization edited by Labatut et al, 2016 and the 2016 Standing Conference on Organizational Symbolism entitled ‘The Animal’) significantly more attention needs to be paid to this important subject.  This is the aim of this special issue of Gender Work and Organization.

The rise of posthumanism, ecofeminist critique and advocacy/activist scholarship has challenged the way in which scholars of many disciplines approach the animal question (Pedersen, 2011) and may provide a useful base for enquiry. Posthumanist theory, for example, provides a frame for understanding the complex entanglements that enmesh humans and other creatures in social settings (Taylor and Twine, 2014; Pedersen 2011). While an emergent and by no means clear-cut theoretical position, its broad emphasis upon the continuities between human and other animal life and its desire to make visible the false dualism between species (Peterson, 2011) offers useful structure for those seeking to challenge the dominance of anthropocentrism in research on organization. In seeking to realize the potential of posthumanist aims, organization studies can learn from a range of disciplines which have traditionally been pre-occupied with the human: geography, sociology, ethnography and anthropology, for instance, but which are now turning towards multi-species settings (see, for example, Buller, 2015) just as they may find empirical food for thought in the natural sciences (DiFiore and Rendall, 1994).  

Those within gender/queer studies, feminism and women’s studies, for example, have made good progress in crossing disciplinary boundaries in part due to the ‘permission’ granted by posthumanism, to study a subject traditionally off-limits to those outside the discipline. Connell, for example, (2001) considers the concept of the natural world in tandem with that of hegemonic masculinity: masculinity being traditionally aligned with reason, rationality and the human mind which devalues the feminine, emotion, the body and the natural world. Likewise, feminist approaches to environmental matters such as sustainability have developed in response to the ways in which ‘woman’ and ‘nature’ are conceptually linked in Western thought and the processes of inferiorization have reinforced each other. Turning such a lens to questions of species has potential to mount a serious challenge to humanist academic discourses and practises surrounding sustainability, social responsibility and justice (Plumwood, 1993).

Contributors to this issue will find a wealth of theoretical resources to offer inspiration. Donna Haraway, for example, (2003) has been formative in criticising the nature of dualisms and re-formulating how we might think about intertwined lives - her thesis of naturecultures remains an influential way to think about species entanglements. Noting the continuities between human and animal forms of culture, Haraway highlights the dangers of sanitized species categories, suggesting that how we constitute others is the basis for our behavior towards them. By extension, then, deconstructing the binary purisms that situate ‘us’ as better than ‘them’ is central in her thinking (Haraway, 2008; Taylor and Twine 2014). Rosi Braidotti, emphasizing the significance of gender/sex differences in such debates argues that the contemporary era of advanced postmodernity is one in which “the very notion of ‘the human’ is not only de-stabilized by technologically mediated social relations in a globally connected world, but it is also thrown open to contradictory re-definitions of what exactly counts as human” (2006: 197). 

The decentring of humanity within posthumanism makes the theoretical and empirical space for ‘others’ of various sorts, be they cyborgs, robots, ‘monsters’, ‘food-producing’ animals, working animals or ‘pets’. Haraway’s (1991) discussion on cyborgs, for example, has proved pivotal to feminist contributions to both science and posthumanist agendas. Responsibility for nature, women’s participation in the advanced techno-sciences as well as moral questions over agency are themes which continue to be developed from her writing. Activist and advocacy perspectives may follow this trajectory further by aiming to include those excluded and written out as ‘others’ by earlier practices of pure binary thinking.  Likewise, indigenous scholarship provides a further space where critical debates are identifying and undermining the ethnocentrism which underpins much knowledge production. Tallbear (2014) offers hope for research which draws on indigenous, feminist and western scientific approaches, for example, while recognizing the policitised contexts of such knowledge production. Similarly, Critical Theory and the social criticism of science (STS) provide insightful lenses to analyse organizational settings particularly where there is a connection to materiality and bio-technical science such as the meat, farming and veterinary industries (Novek, 2005).

It is likely that any efforts to understand the nonhuman animal members of organizations will need to adopt an innovative and creative lens, all the while remaining attendant to the colonial politics which underpins understandings of human and non-human oppressions (Armstrong, 2002; Belcourt, 2014). Researchers will need to locate their research within broader debates, outside of organizational studies, in order to consider the vast array of perspectives. The nonhuman animal is a focus of empirical and theoretical consideration within disciplines including eco-feminist theory, indigenous studies, zoology, biology, psychology, sociology, legal studies, and criminology (links between abuse of nonhuman animals and domestic violence, for example) (Deckha, 2012 and 2013). They will also need to attend to the discussions about culture which question its inherent humanism (such as in discussions about higher apes and cetacea, see McGrew, 2004 for example and discussions of agency or subjectivity such as those provided by Schnabel, 2014). Importantly, this call for papers encourages authors to consider the role of feminist theory in destabilising one of the key tenets of organizational theory – namely a specie-ist preoccupation with the (male) human as key to understanding work and organizations.

Submissions may address questions such as:

 ·      How can feminist theory be used to reveal and understand the gendered labour of human and nonhuman animals within organizations?

·      In what ways can the feminist critical post-humanist and post-anthropomorphist approaches of thinkers like Rosi Braidotti, Karen Barad and Donna Haraway have for revising understandings of organization? 

·      How are the relations between human and nonhuman workers gendered, and what are the implications for the (re)production of gender inequalities?

·      What are the implications of using feminist posthumanist theory for the ontology of the human worker, or who/what can constitute an organizational actor? How can such work advance posthumanist theorising?

·      What is the potential for feminist theory to advance organizational concerns with nature, for example, locating contemporary organizational studies with current debates on the anthropocene and climate change?

·      How can we overcome the inherent difficulties associated with researching nonhuman actors, including nonhuman animals within organizations?

·      Discussions of the scope for ‘de-colonising’ feminist organisational studies, through the embedding of indigenous perspectives.

·      Approaches that include how masculinity and non-human animal lives are intertwined and dependent on each other and sometimes in competition with each other, like for example in meat works and other predominantly masculine occupations.

·      Studies that examine how nonhuman and human animals work together in contexts like therapy, and management and leadership development, and how gender might intersect in these contexts.

·      Studies or theoretical papers that engage with scientific and technical innovations that are blurring the lines between human and non-human in socio-biological contexts.




Articles should be no more than 9,000 words long and follow the Gender, Work & Organization guidelines for authors.

Full Papers (not under review elsewhere) should be submitted through the journals online system, (, and clearly marked under manuscript type as ‘special issue’.

The deadline for submissions is NOW 31 MARCH 2017

All papers will be reviewed as per journal guidelines.

Queries relating to the special issue should be directed to Kate Sang (, Lindsay Hamilton ( or Janet Sayers (

Papers of approximately 8-9000 words are invited. Papers based on empirical studies are welcomed that theorise human-nonhuman relations through human-animal studies scholarship. Theoretical and conceptual papers are welcomed, as are papers that use novel theoretical and methodological approaches.



Armstrong, P. (2002). The postcolonial animal. Society and Animals10(4), 413-420.

Belcourt, B. R. (2014). Animal Bodies, Colonial Subjects:(Re) Locating Animality in Decolonial Thought. Societies5(1), 1-11.

Braidotti, R. (2006). Posthuman, all too human: Towards a new process ontology. Theory, Culture & Society23(7-8), 197-208.

Buller, H. (2015) Animal geographies II: Methods. Progress in Human Geography 39(3): 374-384

Connell, R.W. (2001) The Social Organization of Masculinity, pp. 30-50 in The Masculinities Reader, (Eds.) S.M. Whitehead and F.J. Barrett. Cambridge: Polity.

Coulter, K. (2015). Animals, work and the promise of interspecies solidarity. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Deckha, M. (2013). Initiating a non-anthropocentric jurisprudence: The rule of law and animal vulnerability under a property paradigm. Alberta Law Review50(4).

Deckha, M. (2012). Toward a postcolonial, posthumanist feminist theory: Centralizing race and culture in feminist work on nonhuman animals. Hypatia27(3), 527-545.

Dussutour, A., Fourcassié, V., Helbing, D., & Deneubourg, J. L. (2004). Optimal traffic organization in ants under crowded conditions. Nature428(6978), 70-73.

Di Fiore, A., & Rendall, D. (1994). Evolution of social organization: A reappraisal for primates by using phylogenetic methods. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences91(21), 9941-9945.

Haraway, D. (1991) A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century, pp. 149 – 181 in Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. London: Routledge.

Haraway, D. (2003) The Companion Species Manifesto: Dogs, People and Significant Otherness. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press.

Haraway, D. (2008) When Species Meet. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Knight, J. (ed.) (2005) Animals in Person: Cultural Perspectives on Human-Animal Intimacies. Oxford: Berg.

Labatut, J. Munro, I and Desmond, J (2016) Animals and Organizations Special Issue Organization 23(3), 315-329.

McGrew, W. C. (2004). The cultured chimpanzee: Reflections on cultural primatology. Cambridge University Press.

Novek, J. (2005). Pigs and people: Sociological perspectives on the discipline of nonhuman animals in intensive confinement. Society & Animals13(3), 221-244.

Pedersen H (2011) Release the moths: Critical animal studies and the posthumanist impulse. Culture, Theory and Critique, 52(1): 65-81.

Peterson, C. (2011). The posthumanism to come. Angelaki16(2), 127-141.

Plumwood, V. (1993) Feminism and the Mastery of Nature, London: Routledge

Sanders, C. (2006). The Dog You Deserve: Ambivalence in the K-9 Officer/Patrol Dog Relationship, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 35(2), 148-172.

Sanders, N. J., & Gordon, D. M. (2003). Resource-dependent interactions and the organization of desert ant communities. Ecology84(4), 1024-1031.

Schnabel, L. (2014). The question of subjectivity in three emerging feminist science studies frameworks: Feminist postcolonial science studies, new feminist materialisms, and queer ecologies. In Women’s Studies International Forum (Vol. 44, pp. 10-16). Pergamon.

TallBear, K (2014). "Standing With and Speaking as Faith: A Feminist-Indigenous Approach to Inquiry [Research note]." Journal of Research Practice, 10(2), 2014.

Taylor, N., & Twine, R. (2014). The rise of critical animal studies: From the margins to the centre (Vol. 125). Routledge.

Taylor, N. (2007) 'Never an it': Intersubjectivity and the creation of animal personhood in animal shelters. Qualitative Sociological Review, 3(1), 59-73.

Taylor, N. (2010). Animal shelter emotion management: a case of in situ hegemonic resistance? Sociology, 44(1) pp. 85-101.