Animal Tracker 2017: Advocacy Tactics
Nearly all social movements employ a diverse range of tactics to achieve their goals. Some of those tactics are controversial, some are widely accepted. Some of those tactics are probably effective, while others may be less effective or even counter-productive. Unfortunately, we currently don’t know enough to have much confidence regarding which tactics are effective. But we do know what people think about them.
The Faunalytics Animal Tracker has been studying perceptions of advocacy tactics and related issues for 10 years. For 2017, we covered the overall survey results and methods and explored people’s short-term and long-term behavior, as well as opinions about humane education, in previous blogs. In this post, we take a closer look at support for a variety of social movement tactics.
Following is the question that we ask every three years, most recently in April 2017:
Social and political movements use a variety of tactics to create change for their issues. In general, how much do you support or oppose each of the following tactics?
Scale: Strongly support; Somewhat support; Somewhat oppose; Strongly oppose; No opinion; Do not know
- Anti-cruelty investigations
- Calling for product boycotts
- Demonstrating or protesting
- Filing lawsuits to protect animals
- Lobbying government officials
- Speaking in schools
- State ballot initiatives
- Using media to reach the public
In 2017, at least half of all U.S. adults (49% or more) said that they support all eight tactics listed in the Animal Tracker survey, except for demonstrating and protesting. There is most support for anti-cruelty investigations and using media to reach the public, each supported by about three-fourths of respondents.
Below we explore demographic differences when it comes to support or opposition to different social movement tactics. We also look at the trends, comparing our latest results with past years of the Animal Tracker. The complete details for all years and demographic groups will be released along with the next and last blog in this series. We will also be updating our graphing tool with the 2017 data and releasing the full dataset combining ten years of Animal Tracker results.
Below we focus on just the most recent Animal Tracker results (from March/April 2017) and differences by gender, age, level of formal education, ethnicity, geographic region, and whether people have companion animals in the household.
Gender: Women are more supportive than men for all the tactics listed in the survey and in many cases the difference is significant. The biggest difference is for speaking in schools, which is supported by 68% of women and 57% of men. Women are also significantly more likely to support filing lawsuits to protect animals (62% vs. 54%), using media to reach the public (76% vs. 70%), and product boycotts (52% vs. 47%). For all but two of the tactics included in the survey, women are also significantly more likely than men to “strongly” support the given tactic.
Age: Older age groups are generally more supportive of advocacy tactics than younger age groups, except for protests. For instance, 68% of those age 18-44 support anti-cruelty investigations, compared to 83% of those age 45-59 and 78% of those age 60 and older. While 59% of those 60 and older support lobbying, only 48% of those age 18-29 say they support it. The youngest age group (18-29) is also least likely to support using state ballot initiatives and there is some indication that younger groups are less likely to support using the media. On the other hand, while only 37% of those age 60 and older support demonstrations and protests, 49% of those age 18-29 and 47% of those age 30-44 support the tactic.
Education: Those with more formal education appear more supportive of most advocacy tactics than those with less education. For example, about 80% of those with at least some college education support anti-cruelty investigations, compared to 68% of those without any college education. We see similar differences when it comes to calling for product boycotts, lobbying government officials, state ballot initiatives, and using the media to reach the public. However, rather than opposing such tactics, many people with less formal education replied that they have no opinion or do not know how much they support different tactics.
Ethnicity: Support for and opposition to tactics varies by respondent ethnicity, but only for some tactics. Notably, Black U.S. adults are significantly less supportive than White and “Hispanic” respondents when it comes to anti-cruelty investigations, filing lawsuits to protect animals, and lobbying government officials. However, the difference in most cases is very near the margin of error for ethnic subgroups and Black respondents are more likely to say they have no opinion or do not know. “Hispanic” respondents are the most likely group to support filing lawsuits, calling for product boycotts, and protesting. White U.S. adults are significantly less likely to support demonstrating and protesting (38%) compared to both Black (50%) and “Hispanic” (57%) respondents.
Region: There are very few significant differences when it comes to respondents’ region of the United States. The biggest takeaway is that those in the U.S. West are generally more supportive of tactics than people in other regions. For instance, 65% of those in the West support state ballot initiatives compared to 58% of those in the Northeast, 57% of those in the Midwest, and 54% of those in the South. There is a similar trend for filing lawsuits, but the regional differences for all other tactics falls within or very near the error margin.
Companion Animals in Household: Support for all advocacy tactics is higher among people who live with companion animals than others, though the difference is only significant for a handful of tactics. The biggest difference relates to calling for product boycotts; 53% of people with pets support this tactic versus 44% of people without pets. There are comparable differences in support for anti-cruelty investigations (78% vs. 70%), speaking in schools (66% vs. 58%), and filing lawsuits to protect animals (61% vs. 54%).
In general, how much do you support or oppose each of the following tactics? (percent saying “very” or “somewhat” support)
(Click or hover over labels for full text)
The Animal Tracker question about support for or opposition to tactics has been asked four times, most recently in 2017, but also in 2014, 2011, and 2008. To simplify our analysis of the trends, we collapse “strongly” and “somewhat” support as well as “strongly” and “somewhat” oppose. We also collapse “no opinion” and “do not know” responses, though we do not focus on these in our analysis. The trends show that support for the tactics listed was generally strongest in the initial year (2008), declined in 2011 and 2014, and most recently rebounded in 2017.
Anti-cruelty investigations: The proportion of U.S. adults saying they support anti-cruelty investigations increased slightly, from 70% in 2014 to 75% in 2017. However, this number is still slightly off the all-time high of 80% support in 2008, the Animal Tracker’s first year.
Calling for product boycotts: Those saying they support calling for product boycotts increased from 2014 (42%) to 2017 (49%). Again, however, this number is slightly off the 2008 figure (52%), though the difference is within the margin of error, suggesting the long-term trend is essentially flat.
Demonstrating or protesting: The proportion of people who support demonstrating or protesting has remained the lowest for all tactics throughout all years of the Animal Tracker. In 2008, just under half of U.S. adults (48%) supported this tactic. The support level dropped to 42% in 2011, remained there in 2014, and rebounded slightly to 44% in 2017. These changes are either within or very near the margin of error.
Filing lawsuits to protect animals: U.S. adults saying they support filling lawsuits to protect animals is near an all-time high. Again, we saw the largest amount of support in 2008 (59%) and that number is essentially unchanged over the long-term – in 2017, support was at 58%. However, support for filing lawsuits was significantly lower in 2011 (50%) and 2014 (47%).
Lobbying government officials: Similar to the support level for filing lawsuits, support for lobbying government officials is essentially unchanged over the long term (55% in 2008, 54% in 2017). However, the level of support was significantly lower in both 2011 (43%) and 2014 (46%).
Speaking in schools: Over the long-term, support for speaking in schools has eroded significantly, from 71% in 2008 to 63%. Interestingly, this runs somewhat counter the long-term belief in the importance of humane education, which we discussed in the last blog. However, support for speaking in schools has bounced up and down; support was at 60% in 2011 and 55% in 2014.
State ballot initiatives: The level of support for state ballot initiatives has followed the same trend as support for many other tactics. In 2008, 60% of people supported this tactic. This figure dropped to 51% in 2011 and then declined further, to 48% in 2011. In 2017, the support for ballot initiatives increased to 58%, which is statistically the same as the highest level of support in 2008.
Using media to reach the public: The proportion of U.S. adults who support using the media to reach the public also peaked in 2008, at 76%. Despite falling in each of the subsequent years in which this question was asked (71% in 2011, 70% in 2014), the number regained much of that decline in 2017 (73%).