To differentiate between the two, sociologists have coined the term nonhuman animals. According to Irvine (2004), nonhuman animals are those animals that are capable of displaying the characteristics displayed by human beings though not at the same level or extent. These animals are able to register pain, they have some cognitive ability and memory and some can even feel compassion for other animals or humans (Sanders, 2003). Most of these animals have been domesticated. The British society is one of the many societies that appreciate the roles of these animals, both material and cultural (MacGregor, 2012). Of the many roles that nonhuman animals, the role of a pet is the most significant one. This paper shall examine these various roles that nonhuman animals play in a modern society.
There are two broad roles that non-human animals play; material roles and cultural roles. The material roles relate to creation of wealth while cultural roles relate to the perceived or real cultural values that these animals possess and impart (Nibert, 2003; Tovey, 2003). The first material role that nonhuman animals played is that they led to urbanisation and industralisation of the modern society (Alger and Alger, 1997). Animals enabled the development and spread of civilisation. According to Bryant (1979), civilisation was propelled by domestication of animals nearly 12,000 years ago. The domestication of animals enabled human beings to use animals in farm activities such as ploughing, irrigating and transportation of harvested materials which were then bartered or sold (Alger and Alger, 1999). Animals relieved human beings from hard labour and accorded them the opportunity to work on other development activities other than sourcing for food (Yates, 2011). Some of the animals that were domesticated include donkeys, horses, dogs, cats,