Res Publica

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 205–221 | Cite as

Trespass, Animals and Democratic Engagement

  • Clare McCausland
  • Siobhan O’Sullivan
  • Scott Brenton


Since at least the 1970s, one of the stock standard tools in the animal protection movement’s arsenal has been illegal entry into factory farms and animal research facilities. This activity has been followed by the publication of images and footage captured inside those otherwise socially invisible places. This activity presents a conundrum: trespass is illegal and it is an apparent violation of private property rights. In this paper we argue that trespass onto private property can be justified as an act of civil disobedience. We look at one particular type of justification: the use of information gathered through trespass in public policy formation. We then animate this analysis both with an historical overview of the effects of sharing information about animal agriculture, and with a specific case study of trespass undertaken recently.


Animals Trespass Civil disobedience Public policy 



The authors would like to thank John Hadley and Emma Larking for early conversations about the topic; they would also like to express their gratitude for the feedback provided by participants at Minding Animals Two (Utrecht), especially Tony Milligan and Robert Garner; the highly detailed and very constructive feedback provided by Tatjana Višak and Adrian Little; the insightful comments of the anonymous referees at Res Publica and the background research Gonzalo Villanueva undertook for sections of the paper.


  1. Althaus, Catherine, Peter Bridgman, and Glyn Davis. 2007. The Australian policy handbook. Sydney: Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  2. Animal Liberation. 2012. Duck exposé on ABC 7.30. Accessed 16 September 2012.
  3. AnimalLibNSW. 2012. Duck out of waterAn animal liberation exposé. Online video. Accessed 16 September 2012.
  4. Bacchi, Carol Lee. 1999. Women, policy and politics: The construction of policy problems. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  5. Bedau, Hugo A. 1961. On civil disobedience. Journal of Philosophy 58: 653–661.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bok, Sissela. 1999. Lying: Moral choice in public and private life. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  7. Brownlee, Kimberley. 2009. Civil disobedience. The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. Accessed 16 September 2012.
  8. Campbell, Dana. 2012. Code of conduct ducks protection for farmed birds. Sydney Morning Herald. 22 June, Accessed 16 September 2012.
  9. Cass, R. Denis. 2002. The US Patriot Act and animal rights terrorism. Rutgers Law Journal 34: 187–234.Google Scholar
  10. Cobb, Roger W., and Charles D. Elder. 1972. Participation in American politics: The dynamics of agenda-building. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Cochrane, Alasdair. 2009. Do animals have an interest in liberty? Political Studies 57(3): 660–679.Google Scholar
  12. Disturbing footage prompts calls for duck farming changes: 7.30. (2012). Television program. Australian Broadcasting Corporation: Sydney, 19 June. Accessed 16 September 2012.
  13. Elliott, Catherine, and Frances Quinn. 2007. Tort law, 7th ed. Harlow: Pearson.Google Scholar
  14. Favre, David. 2000. Equitable self-ownership for animals. Duke Law Journal 50: 473–502.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fields, Gary and John R. Emshwiller 2011. The animal enterprise terrorism act sets an unusual standard for crime. The Wall Street Journal, September 27. Accessed 16 January 2013.
  16. Francione, Gary L. 1995. Animals, property, and the law. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Francione, Gary L. 1996. Rain without thunder: The ideology of the animal rights movement. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Greenawalt, Kent. 1991. Justifying nonviolent disobedience. In Civil disobedience in focus, ed. Hugo A. Bedau, 170–188. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  19. Griffin, James. 2008. On human rights. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hettinger, Ned. 2001. Environmental disobedience. In A companion to environmental philosophy, ed. Dale Jamieson, 498–509. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kingdon, John W. 1984. Agendas, alternatives, and public policies. Boston: Little Brown.Google Scholar
  22. Lasswell, Harold D. 1951. The policy orientation. In The policy sciences: Recent developments in scope and method, ed. Daniel Lerner, and Harold D. Lasswell, 3–15. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Lateline. 2012a. NSW to toughen abattoir standards: Lateline. 2012. Television program. Australian Broadcasting Corporation: Sydney, 16 May. Accessed 31 October 2012.
  24. Lateline. 2012b. Sheep export bans ignored: Lateline. 2012. Television program. Australian Broadcasting Corporation: Sydney, 6 September. Accessed 16 September 2012.
  25. Lavoie, Denise. 2012. Animal enterprise terrorism act: U.S asks judge to dismiss lawsuit against 2006 law. Huffington Post, 29 August. Accessed 29 August 2012.
  26. Lovvorn, Jonathan R., and Nancy V. Perry. 2009. California Proposition 2: A watershed moment for animal law. Animal Law 15: 149–169.Google Scholar
  27. Morreall, John. 1991. The justifiability of violent civil disobedience. In Civil disobedience in focus, ed. Hugo A. Bedau, 130–143. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  28. McKenna, Carol. 2000. Ruth Harrison. The Guardian, 6 July. Accessed 16 September 2012.
  29. O’Sullivan, Siobhan. 2011. Animals, equality and democracy. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. PETA. n.d. About PETA. Accessed 12 September 2012.
  31. Putnam, Robert. 1993. Making democracy work: Civic traditions in modern Italy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Rawls, John. 1996. Political liberalism. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Rawls, John. 1999. A theory of justice, revised edition. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Raz, Joseph. 1988. The morality of freedom. Oxford Scholarship Online.Google Scholar
  35. Rochefort, David A., and Roger W. Cobb. 1993. Problem definition, agenda access and policy choice. Policy Studies Journal 21: 56–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Rochefort, David A., and Roger W. Cobb. 1994. The politics of problem definition: Shaping the policy agenda. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas.Google Scholar
  37. Royal Society for the Protection of Animals. n.d. RSPCA Animals Australia Getup websites crash under huge demand in live exports campaign.,-animals-australia,-getup-websites-crash-under-huge-demand-in-live-export-campaign.html. Accessed 16 September 2012.
  38. Sankoff, Peter. 2009. The welfare paradigm: Making the world a better place for animals? In Animal law in Australasia: a new dialogue, ed. Peter Sankoff & Steven White, 7–34. Leichhardt: The Federation Press.Google Scholar
  39. Sayer, Karen. 2010. ‘Animal machines’: The public response to extensive poultry production. Rural History 2010, Accessed 16 September 2012.
  40. Singer, Peter. 1991. Disobedience as a plea for reconsideration. In Civil disobedience in focus, ed. Hugo A. Bedau, 122–129. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  41. Singer, Peter. 1993. Practical ethics, 2nd ed. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Singer, Peter. 1995. Animal liberation, 2nd ed. Pimlico: London.Google Scholar
  43. Smart, Brian. 1991. Defining civil disobedience. Civil disobedience in focus, ed. Hugo A. Bedau, 189–211. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  44. Smith, Alexandra. 2012. More piglets ‘born free’ as producers voluntarily phase out sow stalls. Sydney Morning Herald, 16 April. Accessed 7 November 2012.
  45. Stone, Deborah A. 1988. Policy paradox and political reason. Glenview: Scott, Foresman.Google Scholar
  46. Tannenbaum, Jerrold. 1995. Animals and the law: Property, cruelty, rights. Social Research 62: 539–569.Google Scholar
  47. Tocqueville de, Alexis. 1835/1840. Democracy in America. London: Saunders and Otley.Google Scholar
  48. Townend, Christine. 1981. A voice for the animals: How animal liberation grew in Australia. Kenthurst: Kangaroo Press.Google Scholar
  49. Voiceless. 2005. From paddocks to prisons: Pigs in New South Wales, Australia. Current practices, future directions. Paddington NSW: Voiceless.Google Scholar
  50. Voiceless. 2012. Factory farming. Accessed 16 September 2012.
  51. Voiceless. 2011. 2011 Grants recipients. Accessed 16 September 2012.
  52. Wise, Steven M. 2000. Rattling the cage: Towards legal rights for animals. Cambridge: Perseus Books.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Clare McCausland
    • 1
  • Siobhan O’Sullivan
    • 2
  • Scott Brenton
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Historical and Philosophical StudiesUniversity of MelbourneVICAustralia
  2. 2.School of Social and Political SciencesUniversity of MelbourneVICAustralia

Personalised recommendations