La construction sociale d’un animal domestique : le pitbull

Jean-Pierre DIGARD

fr Anthropozoologica 39 (1) - Pages 17-26

Published on 30 July 2004

This article is a part of the thematic issue Animal domestications: social and symbolic dimensions. Homage to Jacques Cauvin

The social construction of a domestic animal: the pitbull

After recalling what is meant by "pitbull", this article uses events reported in the French news are used to show how, during the 1990s, this dog became a heavily covered and highly politicized "phenomenon" that ended in a law against "dangerous animals" being adopted in January 1999. Attitudes are analyzed along with discourses about this type of dog in the various categories of persons involved in making this phenomenon, namely: youth in the suburbs, journalists, elected officials, representatives of the judicial system, etc. These attitudes and discourses are contrasted with scientific and societal debates (nature vs. nurture, wild vs. domesticated, etc.) with which pitbulls could be rightly or wrongly associated. Light is thus shed not only on the social determinants that have shaped this pet"s quite special destiny but also on the way problems raised by domestic animals have been handled politically during the last two decades of the 20th century.


Dog, France, contemporary period, pitbull, social anthropology.

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