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Civil Disobedience: A Case Study in Factors of Effectiveness

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Between 1989 and 1998, The Fund for Animals organized protests and acts of civil disobedience against the largest pigeon shoot in this country. During this long campaign, The Fund used a variety of approaches to argue for its position. This article focuses on two distinct enactments of civil disobedience at the Hegins shoot. Through an historical comparative analysis, the article describes the acts of civil disobedience and the context within which they took place for both 1992 and 1996. The article focuses on audience reaction, including media representatives, in order to discern why onlookers may have found one instance of civil disobedience more compelling than another. The findings suggest that the effectiveness of civil disobedience may be determined in part by the way it is enacted. Specifically, civil disobedience is more persuasive when enacted in clearly nonviolent/non-threatening ways and when participants demonstrate not only a willingness to suffer for their beliefs but also an interest in communicating that suffering to onlookers.


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