1st Edition

Animal Suffering and Public Relations The Ethics of Persuasion in the Animal-Industrial Complex

Edited By Núria Almiron Copyright 2024
    180 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Animal Suffering and Public Relations conducts an ethical assessment of public relations, mainly persuasive communication and lobbying, as deployed by some of the main businesses involved in the animal-industrial complex—the industries participating in the systematic and institutionalised exploitation of animals.

    Society has been experiencing a growing ethical concern regarding humans’ (ab)use of other animals. This is a trend first promoted by the development of animal ethics—which claims any sentient being, because of sentience, deserves moral consideration—and more recently by other approaches from the social sciences, including critical animal studies. In this volume, we aim to start an entirely unaddressed discussion within the field of public relations: The need to problematise the ethics of persuasion when nonhuman animal suffering is involved, particularly the impact of persuasion and lobbying on compassion towards other animals in the cases of food, experimentation, entertainment, and environmental management. This book provides an interdisciplinary, theoretical discussion illustrated with international case studies from experts in strategic communication, public relations, lobbying and advocacy, animal ethics, philosophy of law, political philosophy, and social psychology.

    This unique book merges the fields of critical public relations, animal ethics, and critical animal studies and will be of direct appeal to a wide range of researchers, academics, and doctoral students across related fields.


    PART I. Introduction

    • Animal suffering, the animal-industrial complex, and the ethics of persuasion

    Núria Almiron

    PART II: Public relations, persuasion, and compassion towards other animals

    • On Critical Public Relations and the moral consideration of other animals

    Núria Almiron & Laura Fernández

    • On compassion, influence, and animal suffering

    Olatz Aranceta-Reboredo & Núria Almiron

    PART III. The ethics of persuasion of the animal-industrial complex

    • Harming animals, degrading the public sphere. The ethics of persuasion of the animal-based food industry

    Eze Paez & Pablo Magaña

    Case study: The meat lobby and the World Health Organization

    Laura Fernández & Núria Almiron

    • Fatal Attractions. The ethics of persuasion of the animal-based entertainment industry

    Paula Casal & Macarena Montes Franceschini

    Case study: SeaWorld against the documentary Blackfish

    Laura Fernández & Núria Almiron

    • For an Ethics of Care. The ethics of persuasion of the animal experimentation industry

    Fabiola Leyton

    Case study: Huntingdon Life Science and the SHAC Campaign

    Laura Fernández & Núria Almiron

    • Deadly Influence. The ethics of persuasion of the environmental management industry

    Catia Faria

    Case Study: The Catalan Hunting Federation and Wild Boars Management

    Laura Fernández & Núria Almiron

    PART IV. Rejecting speciesism

    • Lobbying and persuasion on behalf of nonhuman animals. Psychological insights

    Daniela Romero Waldhorn

    • Speciesism and Persuasion. A Conclusion


    Oscar Horta, Núria Almiron and Dayron Terán




    Núria Almiron is a co-director of the UPF-Centre for Animal Ethics and a tenured professor in the Department of Communication at Pompeu Fabra University. Her areas of research include the ethics and political economy of communication—particularly interest groups and persuasive communication—from a critical animal studies perspective. She is the author/editor of several books in various languages, the latest being ‘Like an animal’. Critical Animal Studies Approaches to Borders, Displacement, and Othering (coedited with Natalie Khazaal, Brill 2021). Her work has been published in journals such as Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, Journalism Studies, Environmental Communication, and European Journal of Communication.

    "This astute volume identifies a largely ignored area of discourse about animals—the promotion of products and experiences that rely on animal exploitation—and how it needs to keep consumers from caring. Through their incisive, theoretically-informed, interdisciplinary efforts, the authors included here remedy the neglect while also demonstrating the value of compassion."

    - Carol J. Adams, author The Sexual Politics of Meat 

    "This is a fascinating and highly original volume on the ways in which various industries who exploit animals attempt to persuade the public of the legitimacy of their activities. In so doing, it combines detailed accounts of these lobbying efforts with critical ethical evaluations of them and their impact. Overall, it makes for a chilling but important read for anyone interested in the plight of non-human animals in contemporary societies."

    - Alasdair Cochrane, The University of Sheffield

    "Animal Suffering and Public Relations should be required reading for all who want to learn about the deceptive practices of animal-use industries and, especially, wild animal entertainment in zoos and marine parks.  This engaging read takes no prisoners as an expose’ of how animal suffering is made palatable to the public."

    - Lori Marino, Ph.D. Executive Director, The Kimmela Center for Scholarship-based Animal Advocacy

    "This book is a turning point of what has been called the PR of everything and one of the milestone research on critical communication. Linking PR and animal suffering means to break the borders of what PR has been considered to move to what PR should be."

    - Jordi Xifra, Professor, Pompeu Fabra University

    "A brilliant and cutting-edge book revealing the public relations manipulation of people’s consciousness to legitimate the profitable oppression of other animals. This much needed volume highlights the problematic and unjust nature of such representations of other animals and calls for the awareness and changes necessary to advance justice for all."

    - David Nibert, Professor of Sociology, Wittenberg University

    "Exploitative capitalization upon the lives and deaths of nonhuman animal lives depends upon the highly politicized myth-making practices of corporate public relations. This necessary volume both brilliantly deconstructs these practices and makes a very significant contribution to understandings of the broad animal-industrial complex."

    - Dr Richard Twine, Reader in Sociology, Centre for Human-Animal Studies (CfHAS), Edge Hill University

    "A needed expansion of PR and communication ethics literature in a posthumanist era that will resonate with Gen Z. Animal Suffering and Public Relations offers nuanced critiques of how corporate PR, marketing, and lobbying naturalizes and obscures nonhuman animal exploitation, impeding moral progress."

    - Carrie P. Freeman, Professor of Communication, Georgia State University

    "A powerful critical reflection on the persuasive communication exerted by the industries that participate in animal exploitation. Going through various aspects of naturalized animal (ab)use, it becomes an innovative and solid contribution for those who are committed to deconstruct the discourses that seek to perpetuate animal slavery."

    - Dr. Alexandra Navarro, director of Instituto Latinoamericano de Estudios Críticos Animales

    "This powerfully original book explores an undertheorized, yet crucially important topic – how ideas are presented impacts our thinking, our attitudes, and our actions. Animal Suffering & Public Relations brings together cutting edge thinking on the ways that all industries using animals distorts our picture of who animals are and provides moving examples of how compassionate intervention can reveal what ethical relationships with animals could be."

    - Lori Gruen, author of Entangled Empathy

    "When Edward Bernays defined the field of public relations in the early twentieth century, he took the public to be naïve, childlike, gullible, and manipulable. Nowhere is this invidious attitude more apparent today than in the animal industrial complex, an ecocidal network of corporate executives, lobby groups, and politicians who together subject the public to an incessant propaganda campaign designed to obscure the meat industry’s horrific abuse of animals, its brutal assault on the environment, and its alarmingly corrosive impact upon public health. In Animal Suffering & Public Relations, Núria Almiron and her colleagues expertly interrogate the meat industry’s PR practices, exposing their contemptuous view of both humans and nonhuman animals. They propose an ethics of persuasion based on the principle of compassion, a critical standard by which to hold the animal industrial complex accountable. This book deserves a wide readership among communication scholars, not-for-profit organizations, and animal activist groups."

    - Jason Hannan, editor of Meatsplaining: The Animal Agriculture Industry and the Rhetoric of Denial