A comparison of attitudes towards dogs: A study of articles and advertisements in Japan and UK dog magazines Mie Kikuchi MSc1, E. Anne McBride PhD1, G. Marvin PhD2 and J.D. Reilly1 1 Applied Animal Behaviour Unit, School of Psychology, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton, SO17 1BJ, UK
2 Centre for Research in Animals, Society and Culture, University of Surrey Roehampton, 80 Roehampton Lane, London SW15 5SL, UK Introduction The UK has a long history of keeping dogs (Thomas, 1983). In contrast, in Japan, dog ownership has become popular only in the last decadeT and cats in Japan has grown rapidly in the last 10 years. The reasons for ownership and the roles dogs play in these two cultures may be different. Being fashionable is considered more important in maintaining individual status in Japanese society than in the UK. In Japan pet ownership has its own fashion trends which are avidly followed. This can be detrimental to the welfare of individual animals, should they no longer meet expectations. It is hypothesized that in Japan dogs play a predominately projective role (Veevers, 1985DATE). In contrast, in the UK dogs are considered companions and family members (Franklin, 1999REFERENCE) and to play a surrogacy role (Veevers, 1985DATE). The current study aimed to investigate . Japanese people avidly follow the trend as to which pets are in fashion as following fashion trends is considered to be important in maintaining their status.
On the other hand, the UK has had a long history of pet keeping and people have become more aware of the value of owning pets, for pleasure, companionship, and protection.
There have been historical and cultural differences in the development of pet ownership and the role of pets in Japan and the UK. these potential differences through.
content analysis ofwas to analyse articles and advertisements from British and Japanesein dog magazines. in Japan and the UK, in order to discover the similarities and differences of attitudes towards dog ownership between the two countries.
Methodology Three Japanese and three British popular magazines aimed at the dog owning public were used for analysis. Each quarterly issue (12 UK and 12 Japanese) was analysed, covering the four seasons from summer 2003 to spring 2004.
Results Content analysis of Articles, particularly with respect to the coverage of; the relationship between dog and owner, quality care and responsible pet ownership, dog products and services. resulted in seven categories; Personal stories, Pet Ownership, Welfare, Amusement/Competition, Events, Dog Social life, Dog products/services.
Content analysis of aAdvertisementss also resulted in were also broken down into seven categories;: Health Well-being, Training/Behaviour aids, Professional courses, Dog Social Life, Dog products, Welfare, Dog Business/ Service.
Results The study revealed that the magazine contents reflected many different and few similarities of attitude towards dog ownership between Japan and Britain.The frequency with which each category was represented indicated substantial cultural differences in attitude. UK magazines had more articles and advertisements concerned with dog welfare; dog orientated activities, owner responsibility and owner personal stories, care information/ products and rescue/rehome concerns. Japanese publications had more content relating to human orientated social aspects of ownership such as fashion accessories for dog/owner; venues where owners could socialize – and take their dog. The findings suggest that dogs act as social lubricants, facilitating interaction between owners, in both the UK and Japan. The findings support the hypothesis that dogs play a predominately projective role for Japanese owners and one of surrogacy for UK owners who consider them companions and friends, and are concerned with their welfare.
Conclusion For the UK owner dogs are treated as close companions. This has had many social outcomes; the setting up of rescue centres, developments in dog breeding and training and legislation protecting the welfare of both dogs and the public. The rapid economic changes and westernization of Japanese society has not nurtured the same degree of development of a mutually beneficial relationship between dog and owner, nor served to engender respect for the dog as a species. Rather, magazines portray dogs as useful, yet disposable, accessories in projecting a successful and appropriate image. This development in the relationship between pet owner and dog was not revealed for the Japanese market by the analysis of magazine content. This has important implications for animal welfare in Japan and with pet dogs gaining greater importance for the Japanese, and highlights a need for education programmes regarding the responsibilities, and emotional benefits, of dog ownership. The study also suggests avenues for further research into the role of pets in societies that are culturally different from the West and that are undergoing rapid change.
References Franklin, A. (1999) Pets and modern culture. Animals and Modern Cultures: A Sociology of Human-Animal Relations in Modernity London: Sage Publications
Thomas, K. (1983) Man and the Natural World: Changing Attitudes in England 1500-1800 London: Allen Lane
Veevers, J.E. (1985) The Social Meaning of Pets: Alternative roles for companion animals. In Pets and the Family Ed. M. Sussman Marriage and Familty Review, 8, 11-30