Methods of Civil Resistance

I. Protest and Persuasion

II. Noncooperation

III. Nonviolent Intervention






Symbolic acts of expression of grievances towards a status quo or/and in support of desired change



Acts of limiting or refusal of engagement in typical performance of duties, obedience to and following of established socio-cultural conventions and practices

Acts of suspending and/or refusing to carry on usual forms of political and civic participation



Acts of suspending and/or refusing to carry on economic relationships as expected





Acts designed to directly interject into a ‘normalcy’ of a given state of affairs by disrupting and/or preventing established patterns of behavior, institutions, policies and relationships




Acts designed to interject into a ‘normalcy’ of a given state of affairs by embarking on resource-, and/or relationship-creating activities that generate new patterns of behavior, institutions, policies or practices


Based on Gene Sharp, The Politics of Nonviolent Actions. Part Two. The Methods of Nonviolent Action, (Boston: Porter Sargent Publishers, 1973)


The empirical studies described in this book provide a plethora of information on the methods of civil resistance. The volume relies in part on Gene Sharp’s categories of nonviolent actions (see Table)—protest and persuasion; social, political, and economic noncooperation; and disruptive and creative nonviolent interventions—to study the extent to which nonviolent resistance and its strategic dimension were present in nationalist struggles. Instances of civil resistance in the empirical studies were classified according to the categories shown in table above in order to develop conflict summaries included in the Appendix of the book. The conflict summaries in the Appendix list a wide range of nonviolent methods used by a given movement and provide information about the participation, length, and direct or immediate impact of individual tactics as well as the long-term, cumulative influence of a set of tactics. This information is intended to offer a quick tactical snapshot of each struggle, show the relationship between campaigns and tactics, and provide a framework for a systematic analysis of tactical impact. This can help readers to better analyze and understand the trajectory of a struggle, where nonviolent methods used in one place and time influence the evolving situational context that iteratively sets the stage for the subsequent development of the struggle. The Appendix also offers a useful reference for discussing tactical innovation and the sequencing of methods that can prove essential for a movement to maintain its momentum. Finally, the Appendix illustrates the degree to which this volume supplements (through the descriptions of immediate and long-term outcomes of nonviolent methods and campaigns) and enriches (through the emphasis on indirect, more subtle forms of resistance) Sharp’s list of 198 methods of nonviolent action.


The empirical cases included in this volume fortify and expand Sharp’s taxonomy of unarmed methods of struggle in a strongly heuristic manner. The development of knowledge about nonviolent methods has in fact been driven by people’s creativity and their drive to develop and master effective operations—often through trial and error—to overcome specific injustices. This epistemology of tactical dynamism of civil resistance in liberation struggles is partly being developed inductively—through case studies presented in this book—and is then reflected in the conflict summaries in the Appendix, and through quantitative research that identifies crucial movement-centric variables—nonviolent discipline, self-sustaining collective organizing, coalition building, unity, and resilience, among others—in order to explain the trajectories of nonviolent resistance as well as to lead to greater understanding of the immediate and possible long-term outcomes of civil resistance struggles.