RHETORICS OF CONSUMPTION: IDENTITY, CONFRONTATION, AND CORPORATIZATION IN THE AMERICAN VEGETARIAN MOVEMENT
AuthorMalesh, Patricia Marie
Committee ChairMountford, Roxanne
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractInquiry into how social movements affect change has historically been grounded in either sociology or communication studies and has focused primarily on collective action in public spheres. However, important movement activity also takes place in the private sphere between individuals. Such interactions fall outside of traditional definitions of collective action and are often absent from contemporary social movement theory.One social movement that cannot be studied adequately using existing theory and methods is the American ethical vegetarian movement. To correct this oversight in social movement theory, this dissertation undertakes a rhetorical study of the ethical vegetarian movement, focusing not only on collective action but also on the role of personal interaction in identity formation, participant recruitment, and participant mobilization. A major finding of this study is that personal interaction is the primary reason why individuals choose to adopt and advocate a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. In order to establish how movement rhetoric works, the dissertation includes rhetorical analyses of cookbooks, organization literature, media representation, interviews with movement advocates, and vegetarian conversion narratives, collected through a national survey. The author explores the use and consequences of unintentional, religious, and embodied rhetoric as means of confrontation and conversion in the ethical vegetarian movement.In this dissertation, Patricia Malesh argues for an interdisciplinary approach to the study of social movements that includes inquiry into personal interaction as movement activity. Such an inquiry clarifies the relationship between personal and collective identities and deconstructs the dichotomy between private and public spheres. She also establishes a rhetorical definition of individual movements, which exposes the interplay between movement goals and methods of persuasion and helps differentiate between similar movements (e.g., vegetarian and animal rights movements) and align those that are seemingly unrelated (e.g., vegetarian and feminist movements). The author concludes by discussing the future of the ethical vegetarian movement in the face of globalization and incorporation. She argues that rhetoricians--those who study the practice and implications of communication--should contribute more consistently to the study of how social identity is negotiated through language and action in social movements.
Degree ProgramRhetoric, Composition & the Teaching of English