In this ground-breaking and much-needed book, Stellan Vinthagen provides the first major systematic attempt to develop a theory of nonviolent action since Gene Sharp's seminal The Politics of Nonviolent Action in 1973. Employing a rich collection of historical and contemporary social movements from various parts of the world as examples - from the civil rights movement in America to anti-Apartheid protestors in South Africa to Gandhi and his followers in India - and addressing core theoretical issues concerning nonviolent action in an innovative, penetrating way, Vinthagen argues for a repertoire of nonviolence that combines resistance and construction. Contrary to earlier research, this repertoire - consisting of dialogue facilitation, normative regulation, power breaking and utopian enactment - is shown to be both multidimensional and contradictory, creating difficult contradictions within nonviolence, while simultaneously providing its creative and transformative force. An important contribution in the field, A Theory of Nonviolent Action is essential for anyone involved with nonviolent action who wants to think about what they are doing.
Stellan Vinthagen is inaugural endowed chair in the study of nonviolent direct action and civil resistance and professor of sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is also a council member of War Resisters' International, academic adviser to the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC), co-founder of the Resistance Studies Network (www.resistancestudies.org) and editor of the Journal of Resistance Studies. Since 1980, he has been an educator, organiser and activist and has participated in more than thirty nonviolent civil disobedience actions, for which he has served in total more than one year in prison.
Introduction: the practice of nonviolent action 1. Nonviolent action studies 2. The concept of nonviolence 3. The rationality of nonviolent action 4. Nonviolent 'dialogue facilitation' 5. Nonviolent 'power breaking' 6. Nonviolent 'utopian enactment' 7. Nonviolent 'normative regulation' 8. A theory of nonviolent action Appendix: the philosophy of Gandhi