Intentional Shared Suffering: A Comparative Analysis of Varied Pig Production Methods in a University Setting

We extend the notion of shared suffering first articulated by Donna Haraway (2008), and developed by Jocelyne Porcher (2011) to suggest that while shared suffering is unintentional in production environments, an ethic of intentionality should be employed. Intentional shared suffering evolves when individuals are given the infrastructure and opportunity to openly embrace the bonds they create with the production animals they work with. We apply and compare this framework in two pig/swine production facilities: an organic farm and a confined feeding operation both operated by a major research university to identify what contributes to unintentional and intentional shared suffering at each facility. Following three years of participant observation and interviews within both facilities, our findings clearly demonstrate that environment; shared interests among members; and leadership all contribute to an ethic of intentional shared suffering. Surprisingly, we also find that the cross-pollination of the two programs/environments facilitated community development, teaching/learning and research opportunities.

By Cameron T. Whitley, Seven Mattes, and Rachel Kelly

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