Resource policy implications of animal rights activism : a demographic, attitudinal and behavioral analysis Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/t435gh72v

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  • The thesis analyzes the demographic, attitudinal and behavioral characteristics of animal rights activists, placing them in the context of resource policy. It is argued that the animal rights movement combined the Victorian critique of empiricism with a reaction to modernity that was characteristic of other contemporary mass movements. Animal rights activism emerged from a sociopolitical milieu that legitimized and encouraged political activism in the form of interest groups, and was consistent with American interest group politics. Nonetheless, the movement could not have appeared in its current form prior to the 1960's. Changes in American politics during the last four decades have facilitated the emergence of mass movements, including civil rights and environmentalism. Survey research indicated that activists were caucasian, highly-educated urban professional women approximately thirty years old with a median income of $33,000 (1989). Most were Democrats or Independents and had moderate to liberal political views. They were often suspicious of science. It was concluded that animal rights activism is, in part, a symbolic manifestation of egalitarian social and political beliefs reacting to scientific and technological change. The California Wildlife Protection Act of 1990 provided a case study of the movement's implications for natural resource policy. Activists were able to ban the hunting of mountain lions and reallocate $900 million dollars in the California budget toward habitat acquisition. They demonstrated sophistication and finesse in building a coalition with environmentalists. Nevertheless, both movements were divided by fundamental philosophical differences which makes political cooperation difficult. Animal rights activism was also marked by extraordinary levels of intensity which arose from quasi-religious fervor, and it is suggested that activism fulfills Yinger's functional definition of religion in the lives of at least some of the movement's core constituency. This explains the movement's ability to retain activism in the face of incremental change. The thesis concludes with a discussion concerning the future implications of animal rights activism in society (312 words).
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