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Genetics and livestock breeding in the UK: Co-constructing technologies and heterogeneous biosocial collectivities

Holloway, Lewis; Morris, Carol


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Professor Lewis Holloway
Professor of Human Geography, Director of Research (School of Environmental Science), Chair of the Faculty of Science and Engineering Ethics Committee

Carol Morris


Cattle and sheep breeders in the UK and elsewhere are increasingly being encouraged to use a variety of genetic technologies to help them make breeding decisions. The technology of particular interest here is 'classical' statistical genetics, which use a series of measurements taken from animals' bodies to provide an estimate of their 'genetic merit' known as Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs). Drawing on empirical research with the representatives of national cattle breed societies and individual cattle breeders the paper explores the complex ways in which they are engaging with genetic breeding technologies. The concept of 'heterogeneous biosocial collectivity' is mobilised to inform an understanding of processes of co-construction of breeding technologies, livestock animals and humans. The paper presents case studies of livestock breeding collectivities at different scales, arguing that the ways in which the 'life' of livestock animals is problematised is specific to different scales, and varies too between different collectivities at the same scale. This conceptualisation problematises earlier models of innovation-adoption that view farmers as either 'adopters' or 'non-adopters' of technologies and in which individual attitudes alone are seen as determining the decision to adopt or not adopt. Instead, the paper emphasises the particularity and specificity of co-construction, and that the co-construction of collectivities and technologies is always in process. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Holloway, L., & Morris, C. (2014). Genetics and livestock breeding in the UK: Co-constructing technologies and heterogeneous biosocial collectivities. Journal of rural studies, 33, 150-160.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 23, 2012
Online Publication Date Jan 26, 2013
Publication Date Jan 1, 2014
Deposit Date Jul 1, 2015
Publicly Available Date Jul 1, 2015
Journal Journal of rural studies
Print ISSN 0743-0167
Electronic ISSN 1572-8366
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 33
Pages 150-160
Keywords Genetic breeding technologies, Estimated Breeding Values, Livestock animals, Heterogeneous biosocial collectivities, Life, Co-construction
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Additional Information This article is maintained by: Elsevier; Article Title: Genetics and livestock breeding in the UK: Co-constructing technologies and heterogeneous biosocial collectivities; Journal Title: Journal of Rural Studies; CrossRef DOI link to publisher maintained version:; Content Type: article; Copyright: Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


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© 2014, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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