The Rhetorical Dimensions Of Radical Flank Effects
Investigates how long-standing social movement organizations adopt and promote more progressive ideologies over time, using the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the Sierra Club, Earthfirst!, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) as examples.
This paper gives a historical comparative analysis to assess the impact of “more ideologically radical organizations on more moderate groups by asking the following questions: (1) Does the rhetoric introduced into a social movement by more radical groups offer a possible explanation for shifts in the rhetoric of more moderate organizations? (2) If moderate groups do employ more progressive rhetoric over time, how does this alter their material resources?” Case studies pertaining to one moderate and one radical group in each of the animal and environmental movements are used as the basis of this analysis.
In conducting this analysis, there are several key limitations:
- The determination of causality was not an objective in this research; that is to say, the behavior of radical groups is not the sole factor which affects the discourse of moderate groups.
- This analysis is limited as it is based on two social movements and four social movement organizations, and also only on one direction of influence, the effect of radicals on moderates.
- This paper examines ideological shifts only, as opposed to tactical shifts of moderate organizations.
- This analysis is also limited to consideration of financial contributions and membership numbers.
The Animal Protection Movement
In this paper, Dillard presents a historical overview of the development of the animal protection movement and its ideological underpinnings. A more detailed profile of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is presented, as the case study for a moderate animal protection group. Representing a more radical group associated with the movement is People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which is also profiled in the paper. Through the use of these two groups as examples, Dillard goes on to assess the possibility of “rhetorical influence by the more ideologically radical PETA on the HSUS.”
The Environmental Movement
Similarly, Dillard presents a historical overview of the environmental movement and its ideology. The two organizations employed in this case study are The Sierra Club, a more moderate organization and Earthfirst! as an example of a more radical organization.
The primary difference between moderates and radicals is that moderates “accept the existing relationship between humans and animals/the earth, radicals seek to fundamentally change that relationship.” Dillard goes on further to say that ultimately “ultimately, radicals want the public to see animals/the earth as having the same kind of value humans do. They want to eliminate existing notions of hierarchy and property preventing the creation of a more equitable relationship.
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