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Cultures of care? Animals and science in Britain.


It is becoming increasingly common to hear life scientists say that high quality life science research relies upon high quality laboratory animal care. However, the idea that animal care is a crucial part of scientific knowledge production is at odds with previous social science and historical scholarship regarding laboratory animals. How are we to understand this discrepancy? To begin to address this question, this paper seeks to disentangle the values of scientists in identifying animal care as important to the production of high quality scientific research. To do this, we conducted a survey of scientists working in the United Kingdom who use animals in their research. The survey found that being British is associated with thinking that animal care is a crucial part of conducting high quality science. To understand this finding, we draw upon the concept of 'civic epistemologies' (Jasanoff 2005; Prainsack 2006) and argue that 'animals' and 'care' in Britain may converge in taken-for-granted assumptions about what constitutes good scientific knowledge. These ideas travel through things like state regulations or the editorial policies of science journals, but do not necessarily carry the embodied civic epistemology of 'animals' and 'science' from which such modes of regulating laboratory animal welfare comes.

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