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Veganism as a Movement and Collective Action

The article studies the vegan movement in terms of those in and not in punk sub-culture in how they define and and practice veganism based on the differing aspects of their social networks. It ends with the conception that maintaining the lifestyle is dependent upon strong social networks that are also supportive of the movement rather than individual strength or subculture norms.

To give more background, punk vegans are defined as following the Vegan Society definition and staying static in their views on animal products (in that they are never acceptable). Non-punk vegans tend to be looser in their views with their definitions subjectively constructed and continuously shifting. They have a continuum of acceptability on the use of animal products, dependent on the specific individual.

It further goes into detail that just having the information given to a person about veganism and its benefits does not necessitate change. Rather, by actively discoursing the material with others and extending your social network, you share collective ideals that further affirm your new beliefs which leads to actually implementing the new lifestyle. These other people also help you to keep working towards this lifestyle without slacking off and act as a support system for you to keep going since they are also a part of the community.

This resource connects back to the topic of collective action and the cascade effect. For a collective action problem, an activity only produces benefits if enough people participate. Otherwise, people are just faced with the negative consequences. In this case, if you have a lot of friends who are also vegan, you will really get to know their opinion on the use of animal products and how not eating them can save so many lives from tragedies and help our environment, which will strengthen your resolve to commit. However, if you are the only one, most people won’t understand what you’re trying to do or why it’s so important, which can make it difficult to affirm your benefits and difficult to function in a society where the majority aren’t conscious of animal use — making you less likely to stick to the movement at all. This relates to the idea of a “threshold for participation”. If enough people do it and can spread their knowledge of the movement in a way that encourages you to join as well, you’ll do it too, if you think there’s enough personal benefit as well.


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November 2018