The practice and study of civil resistance

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This article provides an overview of the practice and study of civil resistance. First, historical roots of modern civil resistance are discussed, including the emergence in the 19th century of mass-based campaigns of non-cooperation to promote nationalist and labor interests, as well as the significance of Mohandas Gandhi and the widespread use of nonviolent resistance in the 20th century. Second, perspectives of scholars of social movements and revolution are compared with those of scholars who focus more specifically on nonviolent resistance. Despite studying much of the same phenomena, separate literatures have developed that are ripe for cross-fertilization and synthesis. In the third section, a literature review is organized around three key concepts for understanding civil resistance: mobilization, resilience, and leverage. Fourth, consequences of nonviolent resistance relative to violent resistance are discussed. Finally, areas for future research are identified.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)277-290
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Peace Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Safety Research
  • Political Science and International Relations


  • civil resistance
  • nonviolence
  • revolutions
  • social movements


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