Jasper and Poulsen (1995) have long argued that moral shocks are critical for recruitment in the nonhuman animal rights movement. Building on this, Decoux (2009) argues that the abolitionist faction of the nonhuman animal rights movement fails to recruit members because it does not effectively utilize descriptions of suffering. However, the effectiveness of moral shocks and subsequent emotional reactions has been questioned. This article reviews the literature surrounding the use of moral shocks in social movements. Based on this review, it is suggested that the exploitation of emotional reactions to depictions of suffering can sometimes prove beneficial to recruitment, but successful use is contextually rooted in preexisting frameworks, ideology, and identity. It is concluded that a reliance on images and narratives might be misconstrued in a society dominated by nonhuman animal welfare ideology.
Wrenn, C. L. (2013). Resonance of moral shocks in abolitionist animal rights advocacy: Overcoming contextual constraints. Society & Animals, 21(4), 379-394.