This article analyses the first results of an ethnographic study in which I have been engaged since the middle of 2002 on the work of bioethicists in the public arena. I have attempted to fill not only the obvious lack of empirical data to which the ethics are applied, but also the analytical void concerning the practices of the bioethicists themselves. I propose here an ethnography of "ideology makers", that is of philosophers, (bio) ethicists, theologians, jurists, zoologists, veterinarians, furriers, politicians and parliamentarians, etc. I have chosen among these persons those who are active in the establishment of standards in bioethics, and whose engagement in favour of animal protection is variable. The subject of the study is a recent ramification of a conflict which began at the beginning of the 1970s between anti-fur militants and furriers. At the present time the battle concerns the use of domestic animals for fur. The world of the fur trade is revealed as a social sphere which is symptomatic of more general drifts concerning the relationships to living beings in our post-modern societies.
Bioethics, cultural anthropology, anti-fur movement, minks, human/animal relationships, biotechnologies.