Essay on How Pigeons Became Rats: The Cultural-Spatial Logic of Problem Animals

Published: 2021/11/23
Number of words: 1158

It is somehow interesting how animals can challenge or rather a problem in our daily lives due to what causes animals to become problematic. Cultural knowledge of nature/culture links is necessary for animals to be construed as a problem. To establish this thesis, the author leans on interactionist views regarding social concerns and cultural geography Nature and culture are clearly separated in modernity. But when they invade human-occupied areas, animals are seen to be out-of-place, and can cause problems.

Feral pigeons are a problem in cities all throughout the world, but especially in Europe and North America, where they are particularly prevalent. This nonnative “pest” is controlled by local governments in the West, where businesses prosper. Precisely because of this, many municipalities have criminalized the act of feeding pigeons in an effort to minimize their numbers and the problems associated with them, such as diseases that can be fatal and property damage caused by their droppings To repel pigeons in the past century, for example, spikes and sticky goo have been employed on ledges. Other nuisance birds1, such as starlings, are disliked more than pigeons. It has been said that Pigeons look like rats with wings. Solving such animal problems requires sociological analysis of the cultural contexts in which they are conceived.

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Even in the period of modern cities, faulty framing is a relatively new issue. While sparrows were initially considered the most problematic bird in the United States, they are now considered one of the least problematic birds. The phrase “rat of the sky” is now used about pigeons in news headlines. “Enemy No. 1” is the name of the first enemy. Population growth leads to unpleasant cohabitations. Humans and animals continue to proliferate and will likely continue to do so. Cougars pose a menace to residents in rural and suburban areas. Wolves have been reintroduced in Yellowstone Park, while deer ruin household gardens. The ire of the farmers. As a result, the management of animal populations has become increasingly sophisticated. It has been the scene of intense social struggle and claims-making.

It is possible to gain insight into the construction of human groupings as problematic by assessing the number of species of animals that are characterized as problematic.

Pigeons became a public problem in New York Times articles, and rats with wings frame was invented. As I illustrate in this work, the claim makers’ efforts were vital to this problematization. Pigeons are viewed as rats with wings because of a cultural fear of the disorder and a deep-seated need to keep the city clean, regardless of whether they spread diseases. The metaphor further diminishes pigeons’ moral and physical status. The claimants relied on familiar concepts of space in redefining the animal as a result. They are viewed as “matter out of place”, and the language developed about them reflects an “ethical panic” about ‘wild’ animals that defy the boundaries between human and animal habitats. According to my thesis, pigeons are an issue in the West because modernist concepts of correct, ethically appropriate spatial interactions between animals and society are embedded in Western culture. In the metaphors that we employ to analyze animals, this spatial logic is frequently glaringly apparent. The aims include integrating animal studies into social problem theory and integration interactionism with growing cultural geography literature. Lasting sociological benefits include a clear understanding of metaphorical and physical areas in social problem analysis.

Animals’ value is generally appraised based on their utility to people, according to sociological studies of problem animals. Foxes, rats, seagulls, deer, gooses, and rabbits are all examples of animals commonly considered pests because they are seen to be useless, scavengers, and unattractive, the fact that they are thought to wreak chaos in terms of destroying human settlements or property. In addition to preying on humans, animals such as pit bulls and suburban cougars, or spreading disease, for instance pigeons and perhaps the “vermin” rats may become vilified.

A modernist constitution’s imaginative geography has led to pigeons being problematic, I’ve argued. According to this thinking, nature and culture are separated by clear limits, and animals who cross these borders are considered polluting and deviant. Therefore, pigeons fall into the group of nuisance animals that contribute to the societal disorder. A number of pigeon behaviors directly interfere with human travel patterns. The creatures that are most likely to be labeled problem species, according to this theory, are those who challenge our imagined geographies. It appears that this is the case, as evidenced by the wolf, fox, bear, and cougar sightings in rural and suburban areas. Any animal that is not regulated or civilized is not allowed in most public places in the city. An entirely new meaning is given to the term “invasive species. This truth is highlighted by the metaphor of rats with wings, which I’ve argued is akin to pigeons being filthy. A variety of birds in the suburbs and countryside are included under this statement. Birds such as geese, seagulls, crows, and starlings have been dubbed rats with wings because they tended to invade business parks and golf courses.

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In this paper, the author analyzes how the label might be used to legitimize animal control. “At least 50,000” starlings will be gassed annually by certain farmers in Canada, according to their plans. Farmer: “We like to refer to them as rats with wings”. Rats do not transmit disease or cause harm, whereas pests do so. This group of people is a bunch of scum, according to the author. Wild geese that block school playgrounds have been defended in a story in the New York Times. They allegedly “carry diseases that can kill other, rarer birds, like those migrating geese who work hard and follow the regulations and wind up with duck plague or botulism for their trouble.” – Reuters In the rhetoric, there is a growing tendency to problematize these animals along cultural-geographic lines. Similar to the way humans treat each other, humans treat animals similarly. There are other people who are regarded out of place when it comes to space-based conflicts and social control, as I’ve already mentioned. To make theoretical connections between social problems, Sociology can use the concept of imaginative geographies, which gives it a vocabulary. Sociologists would be remiss, then, if they left animal and nature studies to the natural sciences.

Sociological studies of problem animals reveal a common theme: animals’ worth is typically determined by their utility to people. Foxes, rats, seagulls, deer, gooses, and rabbits are all examples of animals commonly considered pests since they are seen as useless, scavengers, and unattractive. Animals can be stigmatized beyond the level of an essential pest if they are viewed as preying on humans, such as pit bulls and suburban coyotes, or as carriers of illness, such as pigeons and rats.

Works Cited

Jerolmack, C. (2008). How pigeons became rats: The cultural-spatial logic of problem animals. Social problems. 72-94.

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