An emerging social movement in China : frames and activists in dog-rescue actions

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An emerging social movement in China : frames and activists in dog-rescue actions


Author: Guo, Longpeng
Title: An emerging social movement in China : frames and activists in dog-rescue actions
Degree: M.Phil.
Year: 2015
Subject: Animal rescue -- China.
Social movements -- China.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Dept. of Applied Social Sciences
Pages: 147 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: A series of dog-rescue actions, intending to save dogs from being slaughtered and delivered to restaurants, have been occurring regularly in China since 2011. It has seen activists in 22 cities taking actions on highways, demanding dogs be released from trucks, interrupting the traditional dog eating festival in Yulin in Guangxi Province, and exposing illegal slaughter houses which are killing dogs for food. In China, where dog meat has been a common source of protein and where dogs have been symbolically regarded as lowly creatures, these activities deserve closer examination. For example, do these activities indicate an emerging movement advocating animal rights? Or, do they reflect some broader changes in the values and practices of a new generation of Chinese growing up in post-reform affluence and under Western influence? And, further, how has such a movement been able to expand, especially in a social milieu which is generally conservative and authoritarian? Adopting the lens of frame theory, a three-month ethnographic study was conducted in a dog shelter in Kunming which had organized three dog-rescue actions. This involved carrying out 17 in-depth interviews plus an Internet-based survey with 45 responses. A critical 'frame analysis' of the research results, combining discourse and metaphorical analysis, has revealed that these dog-rescueactions in China are indeed signs of an emerging social movement. The movement is led mainly by young people living in urban cities who are heavily influenced by ideas of animal rights activism learned from the West, and who are relying mostly on the Internet to construct and maintain their animal rights activist identity through everyday online interaction. In addition, the research has found that their actions are motivated by a mass frame in which dogs are constructed as a 'metaphor'of a trustful, supportive, innocent and considerate human being. For this reason, eating dogs was simply unacceptable to them and hence the dogs must be rescued. This, however, means that what they were trying to rescue were in fact supportive relations they had with dogs rather than saving dogs as a species.

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