Boxofdelights's Reviews > Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict

Why Civil Resistance Works by Erica Chenoweth
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Chenoweth and Stephan argue that nonviolent resistance movements are more likely to succeed than violent resistance movements. They analyze 323 violent and nonviolent resistance campaigns between 1900 and 2006, for regime change, territorial goals such as secession or evicting occupying forces, and other goals such as antiapartheid. They discuss how they sorted campaigns into violent and nonviolent categories, given that some groups may have violent and nonviolent phases or subgroups. They discuss how they classify campaigns as successes, failures, or partial successes. "The most striking finding is that between 1900 and 2006, nonviolent resistance campaigns were nearly twice as likely to achieve full or partial success as their violent counterparts."

They argue that nonviolent campaigns are more successful because they attract more, and more diverse, participants, because they have lower barriers to join the campaign. Violent campaigns require physical health, strength, agility, and weapons skills in their participants. Nonviolent campaigns attract more participation by communicating more information about their activities, intentions, and participants. Many potential participants have moral barriers to participation in violent campaigns. Violent campaigns require a much greater degree of commitment from any participant who participates at all.

As well as greater numbers, nonviolent campaigns also benefit from greater diversity of participants, and participants' connections to the rest of the society, including military and police forces and the elite.

"To summarize, rather than effectiveness resulting from a supposed threat of violence, nonviolent campaigns achieve success through sustained pressure derived from mass mobilization that withdraws the regime's economic, political, social, and even military support from domestic populations and third parties. Leverage is achieved when the adversary's most important supporting organizations and institutions are systematically pulled away through mass noncooperation."

"Violent campaigns, we suggest, are more likely to reinforce the adversary's main pillars of support and increase their loyalty and obedience to the regime, as opposed to pulling apart and reducing their loyalties to the regime. A 'rally around the flag' effect is more likely to occur when the adversary is confronted with violent resistance than with a disciplined nonviolent campaign that makes its commitment to nonviolent means known."

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Reading Progress

January 29, 2018 – Started Reading
January 29, 2018 – Shelved
February 5, 2018 – Finished Reading

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