Defining Tactics (Part 1 of 4)
There is a lack of understanding as to the efficacy of different tactics available to animal advocates, as HRC has noted in the past. In this series, I present the available research in the hopes it can help animal advocates direct their campaigns. In this first post I define and discuss tactics in general. In Part 2 of the series I will examine public attitudes toward different types of tactics. Part 3 will review the efficacy of “shock advocacy” and Part 4 will look at the current use social media to effect change for animals.
Other parts in this blog series:
Overall, there is currently a lack of literature that investigates the efficacy of different tactics. Hopefully future research will cover these topics. HRC will keep searching out this research and highlighting it so that animal advocates can work to protect animals in the most effective and efficient ways possible.
What is a “tactic”? In an HRC article, “Strategy and Message Development for Animal Advocacy,” Anthony Bellotti makes an important distinction between strategy and tactics:
- “Issue advocates often use the words ‘message,’ ‘strategy,’ and ‘tactic’ imprecisely. I will assume Ron Faucheux’s… excellent definition: “strategy is how you position yourself and allocate your resources to maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. It is a concept. It is a way to win. A tactic, on the other hand, is a tool to implement strategy. It is conduct.’”
A tactic is not the message that you are trying to convey or the goal of the movement, rather it is how you go about conveying that message or achieving that goal. In the animal protection movement there are a plethora of tactics. Social movements scholars, Verta Taylor and Nella Van Dyke, define all social movement tactics as a form of protest and describe the many forms that it can take:
- [It] can encompass a wide variety of actions, ranging from conventional strategies of political persuasion such as lobbying, voting and petitioning; confrontational tactics such as marches, strikes and demonstrations that disrupt the day-to-day life of a community; violent acts that inflict material and economic damage and loss of life; and cultural forms of political expression such as rituals, spectacles, music, art, poetry, literature, and cultural practices of everyday life.
Animal protection organizations reject violence and embrace tactics of political persuasion such as lobbying, confrontational tactics such as demonstrations and cultural forms of political protest, including in the form of persuading people to embrace the daily “cultural practice” of vegetarianism and veganism. Most organizations draw on a variety of tactics depending on the campaign message and goals.
Before beginning any campaign, animal advocates must first decide which tactics will most effectively convey the intended message and reach the intended goal. For example, if the goal is to convert people to veganism, outreach will be more effective than a demonstration at a restaurant that serves meat. On the other hand, if the goal is to convince a restaurant to stop selling foie gras, a demonstration outside of the restaurant will likely be more effect than vegan outreach.
Advocates must also decide what tactics are within their repertoire. For example, members of a social movement organization might decide they are more comfortable working on community outreach and education than they are with having demonstrations.
Little research has been done to determine what tactics work best in which situation. As part of our continuing series on tactics, we will investigate some of the research that does exist. In the next post I discuss the animal advocates attitudes toward different types of tactics.
 Taylor, Verta and Nella Van Dyke. (2007). “’Get up, Stand up’: Tactical Repertoires of Social Movements.” In The Blackwell Companion to Social Movements, Eds. Snow, Soule and Kriesi. Malden: Blackwell Press. Pp. 262-293
August 31, 2011 - by Carol L. Glasser