|Thursday, 12.09.2013 15:00-15:50 Room A
|Animal rights: Moral crusade or political movement?
Animal activists seek their objective of moral and legal rights for animals by promoting the adoption of personal choice cruelty-free, vegan/vegetarian lifestyles. This strategy is informed by personal transformative moments (PTM), which are individual, powerful situations when the veil of institutional animal exploitation is lifted. The transformation to an animal activist is profound. Animal rights becomes a moral crusade. The animal liberation objective which animal activists seek will be achieved, they believe, by creating similar situations for others to experience PTMs. These are moral shocks triggered by public educational campaigns (e.g., protests, information dissemination, publicity stunts). Thus, people become animal activists. It is naive to believe, however, that everyone will care about animals as deeply as animal activists do. Consequently, animal activists need to understand how society responds to change, particularly from social movements and, then, apply this insight into achieving animal rights.
I draw from more than 35 years of personal commitment and professional involvement with the animal rights movement in the UK and US to make the case that animal activists must expand their worldview from activism to also include advocacy (e.g., law, public policy, lobbying, legislation). Further, seeing the animal rights movement as a social movement will help animal activists to understand social change. I propose five stages which successful social movements move through. As animal activists learn how to function as animal advocates we will advance the animal rights movement further along the five stages toward achieving our mission.