Winning Without Fighting: The Art of Nonviolent Action
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Nonviolent collective action emerged during the last century as a potent tool for democratization and the pursuit of freedom and human rights. Yet the phenomenon remains somewhat understudied, and our understanding of its dynamics far from complete. The paper attempts to address the lack of understanding by identifying causal factors that can explain the success or failure of nonviolent protest. It approaches this question through a combination of three comparative methodologies – in-depth qualitative case studies, Boolean comparison (Qualitative Case Analysis) and statistical analysis – examining a total of 29 cases of nonviolent action throughout the 20th century (with a brief foray into the 21st). The data set is constructed from extant case studies and other secondary sources. The study investigates the causal impact of regime legitimacy, regime and protest group violence, mass media freedom, and religious authority on protest outcome and identifies legitimacy and protest violence as particularly decisive. A discussion of the implications of these findings for protest organizers is offered, and predictions on their basis are made for the outcome of recent protests in Burma/Myanmar and a hypothetical Palestinian protest movement against the West Bank Wall.