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Framing Farming: Communication Strategies for Animal Rights

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To what extent should animal rights activists promote animal rights when attempting to persuade meat-lovers to stop eating animals? Contributing to a classic social movement framing debate, Freeman examines the animal rights movement’s struggles over whether to construct farming campaign messages based more on utility (emphasizing animal welfare, reform and reduction, and human self-interest) or ideology (emphasizing animal rights and abolition). Freeman prioritizes the latter, “ideological authenticity,” to promote a needed transformation in worldviews and human animal identity, not just behaviors. This would mean framing “go veg” messages not only around compassion, but also around principles of ecology, liberty, and justice, convincing people “it’s not fair to farm anyone”. Through a unique frame analysis of vegan campaign materials (from websites, to videos, to bumper stickers) at five prominent U.S. animal rights organizations, and interviews with their leaders, including Ingrid Newkirk and Gene Baur, Freeman answers questions, such as: How is the movement defining core problems and solutions regarding animal farming and fishing? To which values are activists appealing? Why have movement leaders made these visual and rhetorical strategic choices – such as deciding between appealing to human self-interest, environmentalism, or altruism? To what extent is the animal rights movement actually challenging speciesist discrimination and the human/animal dualism? Appealing to both scholars and activists, <i>Framing Farming</i> distinctively offers practical strategic guidance while remaining grounded in animal ethics and communication theory. It not only describes what 21st century animal rights campaigns are communicating, it also prescribes recommendations for what they should communicate to remain culturally resonant while promoting needed long-term social transformation away from using animals as resources.

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