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date: 20 April 2024

Civil Resistancelocked

Civil Resistancelocked

  • Hardy MerrimanHardy MerrimanInternational Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC)

Summary

Civil resistance is a way for people—often those who have no special status or privilege—to wield power without the threat or use of violence. It consists of a range of acts of protests (e.g., mass demonstrations); noncooperation (e.g., strikes, boycotts); intervention (e.g., blockades, mass demonstrations); and the development of new relationships, behavior patterns, and organizations (e.g., alternative institutions). Diverse people from societies worldwide have engaged in civil resistance for millennia. Individuals can initiate acts of civil resistance spontaneously, and many have done so at some point in their lives, for example, by defying or reducing their cooperation with institutional policies as students or employees. However, the study of this field has focused on collective acts of civil resistance through popular movements and campaigns that are organized to achieve shared goals and involve some degree of strategic planning. While civil resistance can be used to advance an array of causes, much of the research has focused on efforts within societies to overcome authoritarian rule and advance democratic change. Scholarship in the field has developed at an accelerating pace in the early 21st century, as civil resistance becomes increasingly recognized as a powerful driver of political change and democratic development worldwide. The field concerns itself with a range of questions, including: How do ordinary people self-organize against powerful and oppressive adversaries? What is the interplay of structure and agency in determining the emergence and trajectories of civil resistance movements? What kinds of strategies increase a movement’s prospects of success? What counter-strategies are most effectively employed against movements? How do movements manage the repression used against them? What is the success rate of civil resistance movements compared to violent insurgencies? What kinds of long-term impacts do civil resistance movements have on societies? How is civil resistance effectively employed for a range of different causes? What is the relationship between civil resistance and other forms of addressing conflict such as electoral politics, negotiations, and peacebuilding? Why and how do civil resistance movements induce defections among their adversary’s supporters? How should international law regard civil resistance movements? What role can external actors play in supporting or inhibiting such movements?

Subjects

  • Conflict Studies
  • Human Rights
  • Organization

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