Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Lynwood Montell, Robert Teske, Burt Feintuch

Degree Program

Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Four Nebraska Cockfighters responded orally to queries about breeding, conditioning, heeling and handling of game fowl, and also about the public image and stereotypes of cockfighting and Its participants. Mastery of breeding, conditioning, heeling and handling is what makes a successful cockfighter, while association with the sport means having to face charges of cruelty to animals and accusations that only the seedier segments of society are attracted to it. Cockfighters are prepared to defend and rationalize their sport with a uniform set of excuses. They claim their adversaries are hypocritical in their accusations. Cockfighters also maintain that the Lord created game birds only for fighting. They emphasize that cockfighters are respectable people with a degree of honesty, dignity and pride unknown to other sports. The esoteric-exoteric factor in folklore provided a theoretical perspective to the study. Simply, cockfighters engage in an illegal activity that is regarded by those outside the group as cruel and dehumanizing. Cockfighters, however, realize the exoteric concepts believed about them and are able to refute those concepts on the basis of their own esoteric knowledge.


Anthropology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social and Cultural Anthropology