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The Methods Of Nonviolent Protest & Persuasion

March 27, 2017

In The Methods Of Nonviolent Action Gene Sharp identifies 10 “subclasses” of methods of nonviolent protest and persuasion.  They are:

  1. Formal statements,
  2. Communications with a wider audience,
  3. Group representations,
  4. Symbolic public acts,
  5. Pressure on individuals
  6. Drama and music,
  7. Processions,
  8. Honoring the dead,
  9. Public assemblies, and
  10. Withdrawal and renunciation.

Together they comprise 54 of the 198 methods of nonviolent action Sharp catalogs in this book.

We’ll get into some detail about these methods in future posts, but right now I want to focus on some points Sharp makes about the uses to which these tactics may be put.

Whatever the action is, its use “may simply show that the actionists are against something…or for something“. (p. 117)

It may be intended “primarily to influence the opponent…or the act may be intended primarily to communicate with the public…or the act may be intended primarily to influence the grievance group.” (p. 118)

In other words, the methods of nonviolent protest and persuasion are many, varied, and may be directed towards a variety of targets with a wide range of intended results. Among the questions this poses for organizers and leaders are:

  • What are you trying to accomplish?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • In what way(s) do you want to influence them?
  • Are the tactics you’re using consistent with the goals you’re trying to achieve?



From → Books, History, Politics

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