Reflective accounts of childhood inter-species experiences in a Southern-African context : a phenomenological-hermeneutic exploration
Abstract (Summary)The aims of this research were to describe in rich phenomenological detail the recollected childhood experiences described by three South African adults of growing up with animals in the context of a traditionally African cultural perspective in South Africa; as well as to document the emotional, physical and social effects of inter-species relationships as described by these participants, in order to explore and situate these experiences in relation to broad international perspectives on the contribution of animals to human development. The question of how these described experiences correlate with broad international perspectives on the contribution of animals to human development comprised the hermeneutic of the study. Here it was found that the experiences of these South African individuals were generally in keeping with the trends found in the literature. Participants attributed to their childhood relationships with animals a variety of benefits. These benefits occur on a range of levels, from the physical to the cognitive, and the psychosocial. The emotional attachment of the participants to animals with whom they had interacted in childhood correlated with the nature of interspecies relationships as anticipated by the literature. Cultural differences in the conceptualisation of inter-species relationships, between western and traditionally African ideologies, appeared to influence the moral and ethical positions assumed by the participants, while the subjective nature of the described attachment between participants and animals remains qualitatively similar across cultures, when explored in relation to international research. The similarities between the experiences of the participants and international research findings lend credence to Wilson’s hypothesis that all human beings are potentially able to connect in deep and profound ways with their natural environment, and that this connection contributes to the development of social and cognitive skills, as well as constituting emotional support and stability. The research concludes with an examination of its own limitations and suggestions are made for further research.
School Location:South Africa
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication:01/01/2008