Potential Research Topics

One topic I am considering is the use of identity as a means to encourage people to support or reject activist causes, with specific respect to vegan activism. For example, with meat and protein so closely tied to masculinity, many people find it difficult to transition to a more plant-based diet in fear that it will make them appear less masculine.


Another topic I am considering is the label-based rhetoric used in racial/ethnic activism and its detrimental effects on the ability of minority individuals who don’t fit into the typical minority groups to contribute to conversations about representation and equality.

Finally, I am considering exploring whether there must be both moral and economic justifications to support a movement in order for it to be effective. Historically, many movements that have led to lasting change have involved these two major components. First, moral arguments collected people to support a “righteous” cause. Then, economic arguments preserved economic stability while promoting significant changes to the industry being challenged. For example, the whaling industry was once a significant portion of the U.S. economy due to Americans’ dependence on whale oil for lamps. Initially, hundreds of activists protested the extremely high volume of killings, but the industry continued to collect their oil. Finally, driven by a demand by those opposed to the whaling industry’s actions, kerosene was invented. After there was no longer an economic justification for collecting whale oil, the industry quickly dried up. While the moral arguments were the kindling, it was technology that provided the spark. In my research, I want to explore the interdependence of moral activism and economic incentives in effecting lasting social and political change. With ample evidence to support either the need for both components to make a lasting impact or the lack thereof, we can use the result either to justify a greater number of unified moral/economic efforts by activist organizations or to encourage greater focus on one of those components should it not be essential that both exist.

One thought on “Potential Research Topics”

  1. Zoe, I like your idea about codependencies in regards to activism. Although I feel that your claim may be too strong. You seek to show that it is *essential* for both moral and economic justifications to be present. I am not sure of this but I feel that you will find at least one example that does not have this relationship. I believe that your research may be more interesting if you alternatively attempt to determine whether such a relationship is a marker for future success in activist efforts.


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