Animal Rights Movement Essay

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The animal rights movement, which emerged in the 1970s, seeks to end the use of animals as sources of food and experimental subjects. It has challenged traditional animal welfare which seeks to eliminate the unnecessary suffering of animals. Strategically, the animal rights movement is characterized by its willingness to engage in grassroots campaigning and activism which, at its extremes, has included, sometimes violent, forms of direct action.

General arguments employed to explain the emergence of the animal rights movement include those based on post-material values, occupation and gender, the latter being seen as particularly appropriate not least given that a preponderance of animal rights activists are women.

Other explanations provide room for the independent explanatory validity of people’s genuine concern for animals and what is done to them. This includes the influence of a radical philosophy for animals, and particularly work by Singer (1975) and Regan (1984), greater knowledge of their capabilities, and increasing coverage of animal issues in the media.


  1. Regan, T. (1984) The Case for Animal Rights. Routledge, London.
  2. Singer, P. (1975) Animal Liberation. Jonathan Cape, London.

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