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Risk & Reward: The Impact of Animal Rights Activism on Women

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This qualitative study of 27 women animal activists examines the risks and rewards that accompany a commitment to animal rights activism. One of the common beliefs about animal rights activists is that their political choices are fanatic and unyielding, resulting in rigid self-denial. Contrary to this notion, the women in this study experienced both the pain and the joy of their transformation toward animal activism. Activism took an enormous toll on their personal relationships, careers, and emotional well being. They struggled as friendships ended and family relationships suffered; some experienced harassment and abuse as a result of their efforts. Yet the women were just as likely to extol the rewards and pleasure gained from their participation in the cause of animal liberation. These included a heightened awareness of political issues, greater self-confidence, the feeling that they were making a difference in the world, and the joy of living a “more meaningful life.”

Affiliations: 1: Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology/Anthropology, 228 Cina Hall, University of Minnesota-Duluth, Duluth, MN 55812, USA;, Email:


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