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Social Movements, Nonviolent

Kurt Schock

Subject Sociology » Social Movements

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


Nonviolent social movements rely primarily upon methods of nonviolent action to promote change. Although most social movements concerned with personal transformation, lifestyle, and culture are nonviolent, those concerned with political, social, and economic change that directly challenge the interests of the elite may be violent, nonviolent, or a combination of the two. The focus here is on social movements that directly challenge elite interests, and that do so – by choice or due to limited options – only or primarily through methods of nonviolent action, such as protest demonstrations, marches, boycotts, strikes, and civil disobedience. Of course, any social movement that directly challenges the interests of the elite, whether it is nonviolent or violent, may be met with violence. Nonviolent action methods are actions that do not involve physical violence or the threat of physical force against human beings and that involve collective action in the pursuit of political, social, or economic objectives. Nonviolent action occurs through (1) acts of omission, whereby people refuse to perform acts expected by norms, custom, law, or decree; (2) acts of commission, whereby people perform acts which they do not usually perform, are not expected by norms or customs to perform, or are forbidden by law or decree to perform; or (3) a combination of the two ( Sharp 1973 ). These methods bring ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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