Animal Studies Bibliography

Jamison, Wesley V. and William M. Lunch. 1992. Rights of Animals, Perceptions of Science, and Political Activism: Profile of American Animal Rights Activists. Science, Technology, and Human Values 17(4): 438-458.

The US animal rights movement has two 19 th century precursors: the reformist humane movement and the radical anitvivisectionist movement. Both movements emerged as responses to significant technological change, critiquing human use of nature. The movements were linked with other social movements of the time (women's suffrage and workers' movements), all of which found a common symbol in a helpless animal under the glaring cruelty of the vivisector's knife (441). The humane movement is generally reformist and seeks limits to cruelty, not to end research. It is based on utilitarian ethics. Most current animal rights thought comes from the anti-vivisectionist strain, rejecting use of animals in all spheres, from research to pets. The movement includes both mainstream lobbying-type organizations who have achieved several legislative victories and radical animal liberation groups who conduct raids on labs and receive a lot of publicity. Jamison and Lunch gathered survey data from randomly selected participants at the 1990 March for the Animals in Washington, D.C., which aimed to build group identity and gain national exposure and political clout. Although March participants will likely have stronger views than all animal rights activists, the data provide a starting point to understanding the movement. Demographically, the sample revealed that the activists were highly educated (79% had at least some college; 19% had a grad or professional degree); 93% white (probably due in part to socioeconomic differences in time and ability to attend, combined with the fact the racial/ethnic minorities may be focused on other social movements); middle class (median income $33,000); 68% female; mostly aged 20-50 years, with one third of the sample younger than 30; workers (44% professionals; 69% working for pay; 14% students; 4% housewives); urban (66% from areas with 50,000+); and well-informed, more than 90% using more than one source for information, and relying less on television than does the general public. Attitudinally, the sample rejected religious and secular arguments about human dominion over animals, and this rejection was common to both reformist and radical groups. 84% opposed research that harmed animals, but views were more split on research that used but did not harm animals, with 26% approving, suggesting the possibility of some common ground with animal researchers. 87% approved of keeping pets, which conflicts with the views of movement leaders. Marchers approved strongly of environmentalists, feminists, and veterinarians and disapproved strongly of farmers/ranchers, scientists, politicians, and businessmen, and 52% said that science does more harm than good, in contrast to general public support for science (only 5% believed the above). Marchers were moderately liberal or liberal, mostly democrats or independents with democratic voting tendencies, and very politically active (90% had donated money to animal rights groups, ¾ had written representatives, 38% had campaigned for animal rights-supporting candidates). It appears that animal rights activists are among the group of well-educated, middle-class, liberal people who participate in other social movements and public life in the attempt to extend rights to abused groups (women, labor, people of color, and now nature). Alliances with other social movements, rejection of authority, failure to distinguish among types of science (e.g. basic v. applied research), and high commitment characterize the animal rights movement, which should be expected to continue with force, despite viewpoint differences between leadership and followers.


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