Veterinarian ‘responsibility’: conflicts of definition and appropriation surrounding the public problem of antimicrobial resistance in France
Responsabilidade do veterinário: conflitos de definição e apropriação em torno do problema público de resistência antimicrobiana na França
Over the past decade, veterinarians have been accused of being largelyresponsible for the overuse of antibiotics in livestock farming. Building on Gusfield’s theo-retical perspective, I analyse how AMR can be conceived as a public problem and show howthe French veterinary profession has been able to reframe it in such a way that veterinariansare no longer perceived as a threat but instead as protectors of public health. Based oninterviews with political stakeholders and veterinary practitioners, as well as on a survey ofthe veterinary press, this article interprets the controversies that structure the AMR problemas conflicts of definition and appropriation with regard to the legitimate uses of antibiotics.Veterinarians have had to make significant compromises in order to reframe their respon-sibility and not lose control over the prescription and sale of antibiotics. This dynamic is theresult of a three-stage process:firstly, veterinarian responsibility was conceived as a form ofownership where their authority to define the legitimate use of antibiotics was not contested;secondly, it was deemed to be a form of guilt whereby they were dispossessed of theirlegitimacy and capacity to act; thirdly, it was framed as a form of accountability where theywere able to demonstrate their role as public health guardians. During this most recent stage- which corresponds to the present framework of the AMR problem - veterinarians have hadto accept that the control and definition of legitimate uses of antibiotics needs to be dis-tributed among a wider range of actors than was the case in the past.