Unlike their counterparts in Europe and America, the citizen organizations acting for the well-being of animals in Japan have not received scholarly attention. In this research, I explore the activities of twelve Japanese pro-animal organizations in Tokyo and Kansai area from the perspective of social movement and civil society studies. The concept of a ‘pro-animal organization’ is used to refer generally to the collectives promoting animal well-being.
By using the collective action frame analysis and the three core framing tasks – diagnostic, prognostic, and motivational – as the primarily analytical tools, I explore the grievances, tactics, motivational means, constructions of agency and identity as well as framing of civil society articulated in the newsletters and the interviews of the twelve organizations I interviewed in Japan in 2010. As the frame construction is always done in relation to the social and political context, I study how the organizations construct their roles as civil society actors in relation to other actors, such as the state, and the idea of citizen activism.
The deficiencies in the animal welfare law and lack of knowledge among the public are identified as the main grievances. The primary tactic to overcome these problems was to educate and inform the citizens and authorities, because most organizations lack the channels to influence politically. The audiences were mostly portrayed as either ignorant bystanders or potential adherents. In order to motivate people to join their cause and to enforce the motivation within the organization, the organizations emphasized their uniqueness, proved their efficiency, claimed credit and celebrated even small improvements.
The organizations tended to create three different roles for citizen pro-organizations in civil society: reactive, apolitical and emphatic animal lovers concentrating on saving individual animals, proactive, educative bridge-builders seeking to establish equal collaborative relations with authorities, and corrective, supervising watchdogs demanding change in delinquencies offending animal rights. Based on the results of this research, I suggest that by studying how and why the different relations between civil society and the governing actors of the state are constructed, a more versatile approach to citizens’ activism in its context can be achieved.
|Publisher||University of Turku|
|Department||Centre for East Asian Studies|
|University||University of Turku|