Nonviolent Resistance — CANVAS

Nonviolent Resistance

Nonviolent Resistance

“A civilian-based method used to wage conflict through social, psychological, economic, and political means without the threat or use of violence. It includes acts of omission, acts of commission, or a combination of both.”

Gene Sharp, ed., Waging Nonviolent Struggle: 20th Century Practice and 21st Century Potential (Boston: Porter Sargent, 2005), pp. 41, 547.

In their 2008-article “Why Civil Resistance Works”, Maria J. Stephan and Erica Chenoweth use this definition of nonviolent resistance to distinguish it from principled nonviolence. The latter form of nonviolence, according to the authors, “is grounded in religious and ethically based injunctions against violence. Although many people who are committed to principled nonviolence have engaged in nonviolent resistance (e.g., Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.), the vast majority of participants in nonviolent struggles have not been devoted to principled nonviolence.” They warn that the identification of nonviolent resistance with principled nonviolence, pacifism, passivity, or weakness can cause a grave misconception. “Although nonviolent resistors eschew the threat or use of violence, the “peaceful” designation often given to nonviolent movements belies the often highly disruptive nature of organized nonviolent resistance. Nonviolent resistance achieves demands against the will of the opponent by seizing control of the conflict through widespread noncooperation and defiance,” (Stephan & Chenoweth 2008: 10).