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Combating Speciesism

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Is an Immersion Experience with Nonhuman Animals an Effective Strategy?

image of Society & Animals

Semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with six students prior to an alternative break trip to a companion and farmed animal sanctuary, along with participant observation of all student trip participants (n = 44) during the trip and at all pre- and post-trip events. Participants were overwhelmingly Anglo and female, and were enrolled at a Midwestern university. Results indicate that prior to the trip, the participants possessed minimal information about overpopulation of companion animals, vegetarianism, and factory farming, and were hesitant to embrace any lifestyle changes that would benefit animals. Additionally, enthusiasm for the volunteer work and interest in nonhuman animal well-being dropped precipitously over the course of the immersion experience. Results are discussed within the framework of Mezirow’s (1997, 2000) theory of transformative learning and Parks Daloz’s (2000) application of this theory to encouraging social activism. Recommendations are provided concerning how immersion experiences with animals may more effectively combat speciesism.

Affiliations: 1: Illinois State University, Department of Sociology & Anthropology Normal, il


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