Non-Violent Social Movements

Producing and disseminating knowledge on nonviolent action

In the last century, campaigns of nonviolent resistance proved more than twice as effective as their violent counterparts. By enhancing civic participation, and thus separating regimes from their main sources or power, nonviolent social movements have yielded impressive results -- even in the contexts of Iran, the Palestinian Territories, the Philippines, and Burma. Historically, nonviolent resistance movements usher in more enduring, internally peaceful democracies that are less likely to regress into civil war.

To explore and elevate the strategy of nonviolent action at the international, state, sub-state, and local levels, the Nonviolent Social Movements Program at the Carr Center produces and disseminates knowledge on nonviolent action and how it can be promoted. Our collaborative research critically challenges the origins, dynamics, and outcomes of nonviolent action. While nonviolent forms of resistance have proven to be highly effective, alternatives have not yet been fully categorized and evaluated in similar metrics. Studies illustrating the distinct short- and long-term effects of nonviolent resistance compared with armed insurrection, for example, have only recently emerged. By systematically studying and amplifying nonviolent action, the program makes it more accessible to the public and practitioners.

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The Science of contemporary Street Protest: New efforts in the United States

The Science of contemporary Street Protest: New efforts in the United States

Abstract:

Since the inauguration of Donald Trump, there has been substantial and ongoing protest against the Administration. Street demonstrations are some of the most visible forms of opposition to the Administration and its policies. This article reviews the two most central methods for studying street protest on a large scale: building comprehensive event databases and conducting field surveys of participants at demonstrations. After discussing the broader development of these methods, this article provides a detailed assessment of recent and ongoing projects studying the current wave of contention. Recommendations are offered to meet major challenges, including making data publicly available in near real time, increasing the validity and reliability of event data, expanding the scope of crowd surveys, and integrating ongoing projects in a meaningful way by building new research infrastructure.

: Erica Chenoweth et al. | Oct 23 2019
: Since the inauguration of Donald Trump, there has been substantial and ongoing protest against the Administration.
Last updated on 02/11/2020

Civil Action and the Dynamics of Violence

Citation:

Erica Chenoweth, Deborah Avant, Marie Berry, Rachel Epstein, Cullen Hendrix, Oliver Kaplan, and Timothy Sisk. 9/25/2019. Civil Action and the Dynamics of Violence, Pp. 320. Oxford University Press. See full text.
Civil Action and the Dynamics of Violence

Abstract:

This comprehensive study introduces scholars and practitioners to the concept of civil action. It locates civil action within the wider spectrum of behavior in the midst of civil conflict and war, and showcases empirical findings about the effects of civil action in nine cases from around the world. It explains the ways in which non-violent actions during civil war affect the dynamics of violence.

Many view civil wars as violent contests between armed combatants. But history shows that community groups, businesses, NGOs, local governments, and even armed groups can respond to war by engaging in civil action. Characterized by a reluctance to resort to violence and a willingness to show enough respect to engage with others, civil action can slow, delay, or prevent violent escalations. This volume explores how people in conflict environments engage in civil action, and the ways such action has affected violence dynamics in Syria, Peru, Kenya, Northern Ireland, Mexico, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Spain, and Colombia. These cases highlight the critical and often neglected role that civil action plays in conflicts around the world.

: Erica Chenoweth et al. | Sept 25 2019
: Explore how people in conflict environments engage in civil action, and the ways such action has affected violence dynamics in nine countries around the world.
Last updated on 02/03/2020

The Physics of Dissent and the Effects of Movement Momentum

Citation:

Erica Chenoweth and Margherita Belgioioso. 8/5/2019. “The Physics of Dissent and the Effects of Movement Momentum.” Nature Human Behaviour. See full text.
The Physics of Dissent and the Effects of Movement Momentum

Abstract:

How do ‘people power’ movements succeed when modest proportions of the population participate?

Here we propose that the effects of social movements increase as they gain momentum. We approximate a simple law drawn from physics: momentum equals mass times velocity (p = mv). We propose that the momentum of dissent is a product of participation (mass) and the number of protest events in a week (velocity). We test this simple physical proposition against panel data on the potential effects of movement momentum on irregular leader exit in African countries between 1990 and 2014, using a variety of estimation techniques. Our findings show that social movements potentially compensate for relatively modest popular support by concentrating their activities in time, thus increasing their disruptive capacity. Notably, these findings also provide a straightforward way for dissidents to easily quantify their coercive potential by assessing their participation rates and increased concentration of their activities over time.

Read the full article here

: Erica Chenoweth et al. | Aug 5 2019
: How do ‘people power’ movements succeed when modest proportions of the population participate?
Last updated on 02/11/2020
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Research shows that demonstrations are just one of many tools that civil resistance movements can use to effect change. Such movements are effective when they do three things: attract widespread and diverse participation; develop a strategy that allows them to maneuver around repression; and provoke defections, loyalty shifts, or disobedience among regime elites and/or security forces.”

- Erica Chenoweth