Becoming an animal rights activist
Pallotta, Nicole Renee
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This dissertation examines dominant cultural beliefs about human-animal relations and the challenge to this ideology posed by animal rights activists. Through an analysis of the conversion narratives of vegan animal rights activists, the dynamics of socialization and re-socialization are considered against the backdrop of a culture that harbors contradictory, contested, and changing views regarding the acceptable treatment of nonhuman animals. The political ideology, beliefs, and worldview of animal rights activists will be examined, and the process of conversion to a vegan animal rights perspective and lifestyle, which is usually punctuated by dramatic turning points, will also be considered. How does a person become an animal rights activist? How does a routinized activity like meat eating, which achieves taken-for-granted status for most members of American culture following the completion of the normal socialization program, come to be seen as an arbitrary, problematic, and amoral convention? The construction of an alternative sense of morality regarding the human-animal relationship and the redefinition of conventional boundaries will be examined in light of what is often a gradual process of identity transformation. The effect of the identity shift on personal relationships and social interactions will also be considered.