The rhetorical dimensions of radical flank effects: investigations into the influence of emerging radical voices on the rhetoric of long-standing moderate organizations in two social movements
Dillard, Courtney Lanston
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Guided by an interest in the origins of social change, this dissertation investigates how long-standing social movement organizations adopt and promote more progressive ideologies over time. While some scholars have argued that wellestablished social movement organizations tend to occupy positions more in line with the status quo as they age, there are provocative cases in the field that challenge this perspective. In this dissertation, I examine two social movement organizations, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the Sierra Club, both of which continue to introduce new arguments and new messages into the public sphere and therefore encourage the public to embrace a larger degree of social change. In attempting to explain how these organizations have developed their discourse in the last thirty years, I focus on the impact of key emerging radical groups within the larger movement. I ask: Does the rhetoric introduced into the animal protection and environmental advocacy movements by more radical groups affect the rhetoric of more moderate organizations in those same movements? I endeavor to answer this question by tracking and analyzing the rhetoric produced by HSUS and the Sierra Club from 1970 to 2000. In conducting my investigations, I explore whether attempts on the part of radicals to expand the realm of identification (Burke, 1950) by challenging taken for granted notions concerning the value of animals/the earth and offering counter-arguments can be found in the discourse of later campaign materials produced by the moderates. In order to do this, I track shifts in the arguments presented by the moderate organizations both prior to and following the emergence of the more radical groups - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and EarthFirst!. Specifically, I explore whether following the introduction of a more radical ideology into the movement, moderates begin to challenge accepted norms concerning human relations with animals/the earth, ultimately setting the stage for a reinterpretation of that relation and a broadening of the existing sphere of identification.