Dog at my feet: A moment of identity construction within dissertation acknowledgements

Ruth Billany

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Human-animal studies (HAS) is a legitimate and multidisciplinary academic endeavor. In the last three decades, there has been a proliferation of articles revealing multiple ways of knowing about the human-animal relationship. This paper, informed by social psychological theories, turns the mirror upon new researchers as they emerge as professional selves into academia. Post-graduate students engage multiple and sometimes contradicting identities throughout their candidatures. The unit of analysis is the dissertation acknowledgement (DA) at both a structural and functional level. The DAs have recently become objects of serious empirical investigation as linguistic choice promotes a situated academic, cultural, and social identity in a moment of time. This paper examines the generic structure and purpose of 104 DAs, with a particular focus on the student-writer's identity with relationship to nonhuman animals in their lives. Fourteen sub-themes are subsumed into thanking, reflecting, and announcing moves. A case is made that the study of DAs is a potentially fecund research area for a unique moment of identity construction.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)221-240
    Number of pages20
    JournalSociety and Animals
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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