Unleashing the animal within: Exploring consumers’ zoomorphic identity motives

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Through netnographic inquiry, we explore the practice of zoomorphism by one group of ‘anthromorphs’ – Furries. We identify three interconnected narratives (escape, healing, and power) that members of the Furry subculture deploy to make sense of the world. Exploring these narratives further, we identify why these consumers are drawn to zoomorphism as a means of self-authentication. Building on this, we also identify two ways (constructing a fursuit and engaging in ritualised animalistic behaviour) in which Furries reinforce their communal status through authoritative performances that involves ‘giving oneself to the animal spirit’. To our knowledge, this study represents the first examination of Furry consumer culture, and contributes to our understanding of human–animal relations through insights for anthropomorphism, zoomorphism, and the extended self. Specifically, we identify that Furries draw on an anthropomorphised animal spirit to heal feelings of disconnection with the postmodern world. In contrast to studies on anthropomorphism, consumers draw on animal spirits to define their internal sense of self and operate more effectively within the world.

Keywords: Furry; anthropomorphism; authentication; netnography; zoomorphism

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0267257X.2013.766233

Affiliations: 1: Canterbury Christ Church University, UK 2: University of Bath, UK

Publication date: January 1, 2013

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