Documenting Harm to the Voiceless: Research on animal welfare

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter considers how harms against nonhuman animals have been documented in criminological research, associated challenges and implications for future research. The development of animal abuse research is examined and contributions from studies identifying, defining and measuring harm to nonhuman animals are discussed. It finds that although animal welfare laws exist in most countries, legislation typically addresses a few crimes against some nonhuman animals. Protections are limited because most harms are legal, falling outside the remit of mainstream criminology. Historically, few criminological studies have adopted an animal-centred nonspeciesist approach, contributing to a legacy of speciesism in social institutions, academia included. The development of animal abuse and critical animal studies challenges the status quo, greatly expanding concepts of victimology, while highlighting a broader spectrum of harms including interpersonal violence and everyday routine harms which exploit and kill nonhuman animals in their millions. These studies shine a light on the voiceless long-suffering nonhuman animal victims and the unique challenges facing animal abuse researchers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of Social Harm
EditorsPamela Davies, Paul Leighton, Tanya Wyatt
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-72408-5
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-72407-8
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sept 2021

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in Victims and Victimology series


  • Animal abuse
  • Animal abuse studies
  • Critical animal studies
  • Human animal studies
  • Green criminology
  • speciesism
  • Victimisation
  • Personhood


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