Conversion — CANVAS

Conversion

Conversion

“A change of viewpoint by an opponent against whom nonviolent action has been waged, such that the opponent comes to believe it is right to accept the objectives of the nonviolent group.”

CANVAS Core Curriculum (2007: 58 & 273), adapted from Gene Sharp, Waging Nonviolent Struggle: 20th Century Practice and 21st Century Potential, (Boston, MA: Porter Sargent Publishers), 2005, pp. 543- 552

Conversion is one of four mechanisms of change in nonviolent action. Conversion is the right mechanism when your movement assumes that the opponent can be convinced that it should (for practical or ethical reasons, or because it has changed its views) adopt a recommended option or demand made by your nonviolent movement. In essence, the perceived legitimacy of the nonviolent movement’s grievance increases and the opponent willingly agrees to make the desired change. It has to be understood that conversion is only likely to happen when a regime is convinced that its interests can be served by adopting a recommendation or demand of your movement (Helvey 2004: 26). The mechanism of conversion may be beneficial for the oponent, as it changes the opponent’s public standing, for example, so that it may get credit for the change advocated by the nonviolent movement (CANVAS Core Curriculum 2007: 58).