A qualitative, interpretive study exploring the well-being of slaughterers : a comparison between Jewish, Muslim and secular slaughterers

Durr, Elna (2020-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2020.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The first slaughterhouse appeared at the beginning of the 19th century in France and the French word “abattoir” was introduced, which refers to a place where livestock are slaughtered for human consumption. Slaughterers (stunners and bleeders) are important in society because they are the people whose task it is to convert livestock into meat. Approximately 56 billion animals are slaughtered worldwide, with 11 million animals slaughtered in South Africa annually for human consumption. Slaughtering animals for meat consumption is a contentious issue and is seen as dangerous work with many physical and psychological challenges. Research also suggests that slaughtering may be linked to violence and aggression amongst slaughterers working in the abattoir. The primary research question of this study is: How does slaughtering influence the well-being of slaughterers? Secondary research questions are: How do slaughterers experience their work? What are the occupational factors that influence the slaughterers’ well-being? Are there differences in the experiences and influence of slaughtering according to the different methods used (halaal, kosher and secular slaughtering)? How do slaughterers cope with their daily work challenges? Why do some slaughterers cope better than others? This is a qualitative, interpretive study and purposive sampling was used to access participants. The participants consist of 24 slaughterers, three of their family members and nine abattoir managers. Semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted with participants and interview texts were analysed using interpretative thematic analysis, following Braun and Clarke (2006). The findings revealed that South Africa’s historical past of racial oppression was one of the main reasons why many secular slaughterers were working in these abattoirs. In contrast with this finding, the central reason why Muslim and Jewish participants were slaughterers was due to their religious purpose and many of them viewed their profession as a religious calling.While the halaal and secular slaughterers identified the many physical challenges involved in their work, in contrast, the kosher slaughterers did not mention any risk factors for injury and physical stress. All the slaughterers reported that they initially felt emotional when they began slaughtering but these emotions dissipated after a few days, weeks or months. They stated that over time they became accustomed to their work. This period is characterised by emotional desensitisation and can be associated with the hyper-masculine identity these men took on in the course of their work. Every slaughterer, irrespective of their religion, mentioned the importance of not bringing feelings into their work. There were only two halaal slaughterers and one secular slaughterer who briefly explored the psychological challenges of working in an abattoir. Management strategies, such as good communication, respect and job rotation were identified by the managers. Another key finding in the current study was that religious slaughterers viewed their work differently to secular slaughterers, and that prayer was an important coping strategy for religiously sanctioned slaughterers. Another central theme was fostering good relationships with family members, friends, and colleagues, which helped slaughterers maintain a positive outlook at work. The findings of the study revealed the physical, social, emotional and psychological challenges that slaughterers, working in the dirty area of an abattoir, may face. Although South Africa is known for its prevalence of violence, the current study did not find clear evidence of violent behaviour among slaughterers working in the dirty area of an abattoir, and thus stands in contrast to the studies by Fitzgerald, Kalof, and Dietz (2009) and Jacques (2015). Despite the violent nature of slaughtering and the fact that I have identified many physical and psychological challenges, it seems as if many of the slaughterers were resilient and well-adapted.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die eerste openbare slagpale het gedurende die 19de eeu in Frankryk ontstaan en die Franse word “abattoir”, wat verwys na ʼn plek waar vee vir menslike gebruik geslag word, is bekend gestel. Slagters, insluitend bedwelmers en bloeiers, word baie belangrik geag in ons samelewing, aangesien hulle verantwoordelik is om lewende diere in voedsel te omskep. Daar word jaarliks ongeveer 56 biljoen diere wêreldwyd vir menslike verbruik geslag en 11 miljoen diere in Suid-Afrika. Die slagting van diere word as ʼn fisiese, sosiale en morele besmette werk gesien. Dit word ook as ‘n gevaarlike werk, met talle fisiese en sielkundige uitdagings beskryf. Daar is ook navorsers wat aandui dat die werk van ʼn slagter met gewelddadige gedrag verband hou.Die primêre navorsingsvraag van hierdie studie sluit in: Hoe word die welstand van ʼnslagter deur die slagting van diere beïnvloed? Sekondêre navorsing vrae sluit in: Hoe ervaar die slagters hulle werk? Watter faktore in die abattoir het die grootste invloed op ʼn slagter se welstand? Is daar ʼn verskil in die ervaring en impak van slagters met betrekking tot halaal, kosjer en sekulêre slag metodes? Hoe hanteer die slagters hulle daaglikse werk uitdagings? Waarom hanteer sommige slagters hulle werk beter as ander? Gedurende hierdie kwalitatiewe, interpretiewe studie het ek die deelnemers deur middel van doelgerigte steekproefneming gekontak. Die studie het uit 24 slagters, drie van hulle familielede en nege abattoir bestuurders bestaan. Ten einde die data in te samel, het ek van semi-gestruktureerde in-diepte onderhoudvoering gebruik gemaak. Ten einde die data te analiseer, het ek Braun en Clarke (2006) se tematiese analise tegniek gebruik. Die invloed van Suid-Afrika se historiese verlede van kolonialisme en rasse-onderdrukking is een van die hoofredes waarom meeste van die sekulêre slagters in die abattoir werk. In teenstelling met hierdie bevinding, hou die hoofrede waarom halaal- en kosjer slagters in die abattoir werk verband met die feit dat hulle beroep vir hulle ‘n godsdienstige roeping is. Terwyl halaal- en sekulêre slagters die talle fisiese uitdagings van slagting geïdentifiseer het, het die kosjer slagters geen melding van enige fisiese beserings of stres gemaak nie. Al die slagters het aanvanklik emosioneel gevoel toe hulle by die abattoir begin werk het, maar hierdie emosies het na afloop van ʼn paar dae of maande verdwyn. Hulle emosies het met verloop van tyd genormaliseer, waartydens hulle gewoond geraak het aan hulle werk. Hierdie tydperk kan deur emosionele afstomping gekenmerk word. Hierdie emosionele afstomping kan ook met die hiper-manlike identiteit van die slagters verbind word. Elke slagter, ongeag van sy godsdiens, het melding gemaak van die feit dat gevoelens nie in die abattoir hoort nie. Daar was slegs twee halaal slagters en een sekulêre slagter wat kortliks die sielkundige uitdagings van die werk in ʼnabattoir beskryf het. Hulle het aangedui dat hulle nie vir altyd sal kan slag nie, want hulle glo dat die werk jou op ʼn sielkundige vlak in die langtermyn kan beïnvloed. Bestuur strategieë soos goeie kommunikasie, respek en werksrotering is deur die bestuurders geïdentifiseer. Daar is ook bevind dat godsdienstige slagters hulle werk anders as sekulêre slagters ervaar en dat gebed vir die godsdienstige slagters ʼn belangrike rol speel. Goeie verhoudings met familielede, vriende en kolegas dra ook daartoe by dat slagters ʼn positiewe uitkyk op hulle werk behou. Die bevindinge van die studie het dus die fisiese, sosiale, emosionele en sielkundige uitdagings van die werk in ʼn abattoir bevestig. Hoewel Suid-Afrika as ʼn gewelddadige land bekend staan, het die bevindinge van die huidige studie nie ʼn verband tussen die slagting van diere en geweld bevind nie en die studie staan dus in teenstelling met Fitzgerald et al. (2009) en Jacques (2015). Ten spyte van die gevaarlike natuur van slagting en die talle fisiese en sielkundige afwykings wat ek identifiseer het, blyk dit dat die meeste slagters veerkragtig is en goed aangepas is.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/107838
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