Killing Them ‘Softly’ (!): Exploring Work Experiences in Care-Based Animal Dirty Work

Linda Tallberg*, Peter J Jordan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Working with animals is a daily occurrence for millions of people who often complete tasks which are tainted, in spite of the work being seen as essential in modern society. Animal shelter-work is such an occupation. This article contributes to a deeper understanding of the caring–killing paradox (a dissonance that workers face when killing animals they are also caring for), through an insider ethnographic study. We find that care-based animal dirty work consists of unique ambiguities and tensions related to powerlessness, deception and secrecy in the work based on a ‘processing-plant’ framework which informs how workers deal with unwanted animals. We find competing ideologies of care and control to be foundational in this work.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalWork, Employment and Society
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 06.05.2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • Animal Dirty Work
  • Autoethnography
  • Caring-Killing Paradox
  • Dissonance
  • Emotions
  • Human-Animal Work

Areas of Strength and Areas of High Potential (AoS and AoHP)

  • AoS: Responsible organising
  • AoS: Leading for growth and well-being


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