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Last updateSun, 14 Jan 2018 3pm

Reading for Change

A reading list for effective advocacy

by Matt Cook

thescienceoffearSometimes presenting sound policy arguments and science is just not enough to defeat breed-discriminatory legislation. You can improve your advocacy by understanding fear, how people form opinions, political strategy, and how to tailor messages to your audience. The following books provide valuable insights on these topics.

The Science of Fear, Daniel Gardner
Have you ever wondered why in an age where crime is in perpetual decline, people's fear of it seems to ever be on the rise? And fear of crime is not an outlier—there are many times where our brains’ perception and the resulting fear are not in line with the actual risk a threat poses. This book takes a look at how our brains perceive risk and fear, how we can be led astray into our fear being disproportionate to the situation, and how our “gut” isn't as reliable as we think.

Sway, Ori and Rom Brafman
Ori and Rom Brofman delve into social psychology and examine how our brains can be influenced by how we perceive things. Some examples include why we accept the opinions of others based on their position, how our initial analysis can cloud our judgment, and the harm of group dynamics. An interesting look at how our opinions and actions can be a result of (often false) perceptions of the world we live in.

Rules for Radicals, Saul Alinsky
This classic and influential book outlines community organizing and how best to implement social change via the democratic process. Alinsky's political views are certainly controversial, but nonetheless the rules and advice for implementing change are thought-provoking, interesting, and applicable to necessitated change in many different areas.

Get Political for AnimalsGet Political For Animals (and win the laws they need), Julie Lewin
Lewin takes a look at the question of why—despite the public's interest and desire for better protection of animals (regardless of the specific issue)—laws reflecting this desire have been severely lacking. She goes on to discuss how to change this and gives specific advice on how to advocate in a way that is successful at implementing positive legislative action.

Doing Democracy: The MAP Model for Organizing Social Movements, Bill Moyer, Joann McAllister, Mary Lou Finley, and Steven Soifer
While not specifically about animal advocacy, this book takes a look at the complex nature of social change and the often step-by-step implementation of it. In particular, the book separates change into eight stages of social movements, suggests roles for activists, and gives some specific examples of how this approach has worked in the past as well as how to make it work in the future. While theoretical in nature there is also a detailed blueprint provided for how to apply this theory for practical use.

Words that Work: It's not what You Say, It's what People Hear, Dr. Frank Luntz
Dr. Luntz examines how words affect how ideas are presented and more importantly how they are interpreted by others. This has an effect in marketing, politics, and in more subtle ways in how people interpret information and form opinions. Part of effective advocacy thus must contain an effective diction for the target audience.


Switch, Dan and Chip Heath
Change, be it of ourselves or of our surrounding world, is something often thought of as challenging if not impossible to achieve. This book takes a look at the psychology of our rational and emotional minds and how this inner turmoil can be a major obstacle to change and instead encourage us to stick with the status quo. It goes on to show how using both minds together can get phenomenal results both for one's self and one’s community.

Don't Think of an Elephant!: Know your Values and Frame the Debate—The Essential Guide for Progressives, George Lakoff
In this book Mr. Lakoff takes a look at how it is that conservatives view issues and how progressives can reshape an issue. In particular, he takes a look at the 2004 election and how progressives failed to capitalize and get their message across to the American public. Furthermore, he describes how effective communication can be as important as the actual message being communicated.





What We're Reading Now

Summer Reading

wolfcalledromeoA Wolf Called Romeo—a wolf who loves dogs, Oogy—the bio of a badly injured pup, and One Good Dog, a novel from the perspective of a fighting dog.

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