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Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018

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Controversies on meat consumption : lessons from a sociological perspective

Issue 5, pp 479-786


1 IFIP, 31500, Toulouse, France

2 ALISS UR1303, Université de Toulouse, INRA, ENVT, 31076, Toulouse, France

3 Université de Toulouse, LISST UMR CNRS 5193, 31058, Toulouse, France

4 UMR CNRS 5044 – CERTOP, Université de Toulouse, CNRS, UT2J, 31058, Toulouse, France


Meat product consumption is a much-debated topic. This contribution aims at identifying the major hot points and determining their characteristics and their implications. By adopting the point of view of pragmatic sociology, players involved in the controversies are identified, as well as the cases used and the way in which they become a public concern. Special attention is paid to the question of animal slaughtering and its media coverage, since the launching of the first videos by the association L214 (autumn 2015) until July 2016. The meta-controversy on meat appears dominated by questions linked with production, more than with its consumption. Environment, animal welfare and more largely production systems are part of the key questions for opinion. Even if the nutritional topics are more and more pregnant in the debate, they seem to be confined to the scientific community. Citizens’ concerns appear to relate mainly to breeding, even if the media coverage of slaughtering partially transfer the debate to the downstream of the supply chain. They illustrate the existence of three positions with respect to meat consumption (veggie, alternative and status-quo) which refer in three worlds (antispecist, peasant and industrialist). Changes in consumers’ attitudes and the respective importance of each of these three points of view are likely to influence the volumes and types of products sold, in the future.

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