Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict

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Columbia University Press, 2011 - Political Science - 296 pages

For more than a century, from 1900 to 2006, campaigns of nonviolent resistance were more than twice as effective as their violent counterparts in achieving their stated goals. By attracting impressive support from citizens, whose activism takes the form of protests, boycotts, civil disobedience, and other forms of nonviolent noncooperation, these efforts help separate regimes from their main sources of power and produce remarkable results, even in Iran, Burma, the Philippines, and the Palestinian Territories.

Combining statistical analysis with case studies of specific countries and territories, Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan detail the factors enabling such campaigns to succeed and, sometimes, causing them to fail. They find that nonviolent resistance presents fewer obstacles to moral and physical involvement and commitment, and that higher levels of participation contribute to enhanced resilience, greater opportunities for tactical innovation and civic disruption (and therefore less incentive for a regime to maintain its status quo), and shifts in loyalty among opponents' erstwhile supporters, including members of the military establishment.

Chenoweth and Stephan conclude that successful nonviolent resistance ushers in more durable and internally peaceful democracies, which are less likely to regress into civil war. Presenting a rich, evidentiary argument, they originally and systematically compare violent and nonviolent outcomes in different historical periods and geographical contexts, debunking the myth that violence occurs because of structural and environmental factors and that it is necessary to achieve certain political goals. Instead, the authors discover, violent insurgency is rarely justifiable on strategic grounds.


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It's been a while since I read this, but it was very impressive. Impressive enough that I remember it until today. Chenoweth and Stephan review 300 civil conflicts over the past century and classify them as violent or non-violent conflicts, and whether or not they were ultimately successful. What they found is a message for hope. Peaceful civil resistance is more than twice as likely to succeed than violent resistance. They explore some of the reasons why (for example, non-violent resistance is likely to recruit far more participants). They also provide some very interesting case-studies to illustrate. The writing style is highly accessible and I highly recommend this book to anyone who has any interest in civil resistance.  

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I have no clue what im reading but ok, just looked up "book" on google books and it popped up, its a good cover for being on your phone in class. :)


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About the author (2011)

Erica Chenoweth is an assistant professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver and an Associate Senior Researcher at the Peace Research Institute of Oslo. Previously she taught at Wesleyan University and held fellowships at Harvard, Stanford, and the University of California at Berkeley.

Maria J. Stephan is a strategic planner with the U.S. Department of State. Formerly she served as director of policy and research at the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC) and as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and American University. She has also been a fellow at the Kennedy School of Government's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

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