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The work of complementary and alternative therapies on British dairy farms

Project Description

The project:
This project steps aside from studies considering the therapeutic effectiveness of alternative and complementary therapies (ACTs) and asks instead if and how the use of ACTs affects farmers’ decisions around animal health management and usage of antibiotics on British dairy farms. The project draws from social theories of materiality, Actor-Network Theory and Social Practice to ask about ACTs role in configuring different farming practices around the use of veterinary medicines, disease risk management, illness treatment, culling decisions and cultural scripts of “good” husbandry and care. If the use of ACTs results, for example, in more targeted/delayed use of antibiotics or a different tolerance of disease, then the effectiveness of ACTs calls for alternative metrics that are practice-based rather than medical-based and serve as better indicators of the work they do.
This conceptual approach to the project expects to contribute in practice to ongoing efforts to reduce the contribution of the (mis)use of antibiotics in livestock farming to the emergence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) on one hand. On the other, it should also contribute to ongoing efforts to understand and change farmers’ decision-making and practices by using a materiality approach that is not caught in the tension between regulation and nudging.
The study will be highly interdisciplinary and will offer the successful candidate the opportunity to work alongside veterinarians in a multidisciplinary environment.
Bristol Veterinary School’s AMR Force research group works to help tackle the global issue of AMR through a plurality of approaches; locally, nationally and internationally and is well-known for its strengths on interdisciplinary research with social scientists. Dr Escobar, a Human Geographer, leads a team of social scientists within the School with strong links to the School of Geographical Sciences and other departments within the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law and contributes to a culture of deep interdisciplinarity within the Vet School.
The Bristol Doctoral College supports postgraduate researchers across all research degree programmes at the University of Bristol and the candidate will benefit from its training and development opportunities and activities.
Interviews for this PhD studentship will be held on Monday 11th November 2019.

Candidate requirements:
Candidates must have an undergraduate degree in Geography, Anthropology, Sociology, Cultural Studies or similar social science backgrounds at a level equivalent to at least UK Honours 2.1. An MA in a relevant subject is desirable. You will have excellent communication and presentation skills. Candidates with a particular interest in Science and Technology Studies are specially encouraged to apply, as are candidates interested in livestock farming, agriculture, animal health, human-animal studies or actor-network theory.
Standard University of Bristol eligibility rules apply. Please visit for more information.

How to apply:
Please make an online application for this project at Please select ‘Faculty of Health Sciences’ and then ‘Veterinary Sciences_(PhD)’ on the Programme Choice page and enter details of the studentship when prompted in the Funding and Research Details sections of the form.

Contacts: Dr. Maria Paula Escobar,

Funding Notes

Funding: International (non-EU) students are welcome to apply but must be able to fund the difference between UK/EU and International tuition fees.

How good is research at University of Bristol in Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Science?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 34.03

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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