This paper is the result of a twelve hour participant observation study of a local, private veterinary practice in southeastern Pennsylvania. Field notes and semi-structured interviews, the result of naturally occurring conversation between me and practice members, were taken over a twelve week period, one hour of site visit each week. Using a grounded theory methodology, categories of social interaction among veterinarians, veterinary technicians, clerical staff, owners and animal clients were assembled, discarded and re-assembled. The resulting categories were analyzed using the conceptual framework of chaos theory and the principles of uncertainty. It appears that the most striking feature of the intra-site analysis centers around the chaotic notion of similarity of patterns or fractals, those patterns that repeat at smaller and smaller scales. In this micro-sociological analysis, these patterns or fractals are presented as behavior patterns within this veterinary practice. The analysis of the similarity of behavior is based on intra-practice comparative data of roles and status and gender. The triangulation of owner, veterinary worker and animal is a fascinating one; from a chaotic perspective it is a subject ripe with the possibilities of patterned order within disorder.


qualitative research

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
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