The medicalization of Nonhuman Animal rights: frame contestation and the exploitation of disability

Corey Lee Wrenn, Joanne Clark, Maddie Judge, Katharine A. Gilchrist, Delanie Woodlock, Katherine Dotson, Riva Spanos, Jonothan Wrenn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Nonhuman Animal rights activists are sometimes dismissed as ‘crazy’ or irrational by countermovements seeking to protect status quo social structures. Social movements themselves often utilize disability narratives in their claims-making as well. In this article, we argue that Nonhuman Animal exploitation and Nonhuman Animal rights activism are sometimes medicalized in frame disputes. The contestation over mental ability ultimately exploits humans with disabilities. The medicalization of Nonhuman Animal rights activism diminishes activists’ social justice claims, but the movement’s medicalization of Nonhuman Animal use unfairly otherizes its target population and treats disability identity as a pejorative. Utilizing a content analysis of major newspapers and anti-speciesist activist blogs published between 2009 and 2013, it is argued that disability has been incorporated into the tactical repertoires of the Nonhuman Animal rights movement and countermovements, becoming a site of frame contestation. The findings could have implications for a number of other social movements that also negatively utilize disability narratives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1307-1327
Number of pages21
JournalDisability and Society
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • ableism
  • animal rights
  • frames
  • identity
  • medicalization
  • social movements

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