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Why are nonhuman animals victims of harm?
Why are nonhuman animals victims of harm?

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2 Nonhuman victims of harm

The experience of being physically and/or psychologically harmed is unavoidable for all animals, whether human or nonhuman, but for criminologists, an increasing area of concern is avoidable harm generated by social arrangements, in short, social harm. Social harms result from contingent social arrangements – those that are not inevitable but could potentially be restructured to be less harmful.

‘Livestock’ farming is contingent on human consumption of ‘animal products’ such as ‘meat’, ‘dairy’ and eggs. Social harms experienced by nonhuman animals are inflicted as a consequence of the legal, ‘business as usual’ operation of social arrangements or structures, ranging from scientific research, sport and entertainment, to ‘livestock’ farming. Examples are the experimentation on live nonhuman animals in the pharmaceutical industry, which is estimated to involve around 115 million nonhuman animals annually worldwide (Cruelty Free International, 2018) and the more than 2000 deaths since 2007 of horses on UK race courses at time of writing (Animal Aid, 2019). Social harms also afflict other animals as unintended collateral damage. For instance, motorised transport brings about the killing and injuring of other animals (as well as human accident victims), often described as ‘road kill’ (Soron, 2011). There is not enough space in this course to fully document these harms, so the focus will be on ‘livestock’ farming and fishing, the legal activities that kill the largest numbers of nonhuman animals. However, you should bear in mind the general point that many human activities that are currently socially accepted as normal, directly or indirectly harm other animals.