Publication Date

2005

Abstract

This Capstone paper explores the power of written words and in particular, published books. For my Practicum, I worked as a Publicist for Jeffrey Smith, author of Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies about the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You're Eating. Books like The Jungle or Silent Spring have made an impact on the general public and also has influenced legislation. Smith believes information is power and if Seeds of Deception could get into the hands of the right people, someone might make be able to a difference. The topic I wish to address is: How do published books affect social change in Vermont and to what extent can they be used as a tool for political advocacy? For my theoretical/conceptual framework, I used two theories to explain how written words (in this case, published books) can affect social change, Thomas Kuhn's theory of scientific revolutions via paradigm shifts and Elihu Katz and Paul Lazerzfeld's two-step theory of communications. For my case study, I examined Seeds of Deception and how it affected the passing of the GMO Seeds Labeling Bill (H.777) in the Vermont state legislature. Many activists used the book to influence policy makers and legislators passed the first GMO Seeds Labeling Bill in the U.S. I interviewed 14 people comprised of activists, policy makers, publishers, and authors and used a Data Matrix system to analyze and break down my data. Based on my conclusions, the data revealed that Katz & Lazarsfeld's theory was a better benchmark for analyzing how books can affect social change and more importantly, books are only a piece of a larger puzzle in enacting legislation. However, using a book as a tool for advocacy is an innovative means for influencing policy and may be overlooked by agents for social change.

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