Vermin, Victims and Disease: UK Framings of Badgers In and Beyond the Bovine TB Controversy
Wiley / European Society for Rural Sociology
The question of whether to cull wild badgers in order to control the spread of bovine TB (bTB) in UK cattle herds has been deeply contentious for nearly 40 years, and still shows no sign of resolution. This paper will examine the strategic framing of badgers in recent debates over bTB in the UK media, which take two opposing forms: the 'good badger' as epitomised in Kenneth Grahame's children's novel 'The Wind in the Willows'; and the less familiar 'bad badger': carnivore, digger, and carrier of disease. It will then uncover the deeper historical and cultural roots of these representations, to argue that underlying the contemporary 'badger/bTB' controversy is an older 'badger debate' about the proper relationship between these wild animals and humans. Finally, the implications of this finding for current debates over bTB policy will be explored. © 2012 The Author. Sociologia Ruralis © 2012 European Society for Rural Sociology.
The research leading to this article was carried out with the support of an Interdisciplinary Early Career Fellowship from the Rural Economy and Land Use Programme (grant no. RES-229-27-0007-A). I would like to acknowledge the contribution of Dr. Charlotte Kenten to the early stages of this research, and thank the various mentors for the Fellowship for their feedback and support in developing this research. Finally, I would like to extend my thanks to the article referees, whose insightful and helpful comments have contributed greatly to the quality of this piece.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Wiley via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 52 (2), pp. 192 - 214