Free-Riders in the Nonprofit Industrial Complex: The Problem of Flexitarianism

In: Society & Animals
Corey Lee Wrenn Department of Political Science & Sociology, Monmouth University West Long Branch, New Jersey USA

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Social movements have traditionally viewed free-riders as a problem for effective mobilization, but under the influence of the nonprofit industrial complex, it is possible that movements actively facilitate their presence. Free-riders become an economic resource to professionalized movements seeking to increase wealth and visibility in the crowded social movement space by discouraging meaningful attitude or behavior change from their audiences and concentrating power among movement elites. Actively cultivated free-riding is exemplified by the professionalized Nonhuman Animal rights movement which promotes flexitarianism over ethical veganism despite its goal of nonhuman liberation. Major social-psychological theories of persuasion in addition to 44 studies on vegan and vegetarian motivation are examined to illustrate how free-rider flexitarianism is at odds with stated goals, thereby suggesting an alternative utility in flexitarianism as a means of facilitating a disengaged public.

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