Thursday, July 13, 2017

Pups and Handlers Project - an Academic study of #PuppyPlay

Puppy-play has been around for many years - and of late has even entered the public consciousness - but as yet, there has been very little serious academic study of either the phenomenon or the community. 

I'm glad to say, that's changing.

You might have seen some posts on the puppy social media about the Pups and Handlers Project. This is a formal academic research project aiming 'to explore and describe the experiences of individuals who engage in pup or puppy play' - and is being led by two esteemed UK anthropologists: Dr Jamie F. Lawson (University of Durham) and Prof. Darren Langdridge (Open University). At the heart of the project is an online survey, links to which have been shared via the various online puppy groups and social media. Some of those who respond are then also offered a further skype-delivered interview, to give them an opportunity to talk further about their experiences - and I've just had a very pleasant hour or more doing just that...!

Dr Jamie is very easy to talk to (he's a queer activist himself, with some knowledge of the scene already, even outside of academia), and an excellent ethnographer - letting me talk freely without interuption, whilst occasionally prompting with some interestingly engaging questions. Sadly, I think I talked his ears off - but I had warned him that I might: I may be a pup, but I'm also a Librarian and a philosophy graduate, and I can happily talk forever about identity, consciousness, zen, reality, queerness and BDSM (just ask my poor long-suffering Handler...!)  

I certainly enjoyed the exchange - and I think he found the interview useful too...

I really do think that this is a very useful study, and one that will help to clarify serious understanding of both the community and our individual experiences and drives. It will certainly explore our scene in a deeper and more meaningful way that the usual 'oh look: how odd!' coverage that we've had so far (nice though that has been). 

I look forward to being able to share further details about the project and its findings as and when these are released. Meantime, why not follow the project on twitter (@PupPlayProject ) - and help out by completing the survey: bit.ly/pupsandhandlers. (especially if you are a Handler or Owner - who are shockingly under represented!) 





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