Identity work among dog owners
Ramirez, Michael Eddie
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Using interview data from twenty-six dog owners in Northeast Georgia, this paper examines the identity work involved in owning and being intensely committed to dogs. The commitment these owners exhibited indicated that their dogs were not "just" pets, but were regarded as significant others in their lives. Owners constructed the identities of their dogs, often by either directly or indirectly defining them as human. The relationships with the dogs also had implications to the owners' self-concepts. First, owners used their dogs to maintain their self-concepts. They also saw their dogs as reflections of their selves. Lastly, owners used the relationships with their dogs to enhance their self-concepts. In conclusion, this research substantiates the social construction of identity as well as of humanness. Furthermore, dogs are used as props to display aspects of their owners' self-concepts. Unlike traditional props, however, they display internal characteristics that are more difficult to observe.
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