Dr. Kurt Shock
Associate Professor of Sociology and Global Affairs
Dr. Howard Barrell
Dr. Barrell discusses how the struggle against apartheid in South Africa demonstrated that civil resistance can be a more resilient and effective form of struggle against oppression than military action. The case of South Africa shows how the leadership of the ANC, the preeminent South African liberation movement, saw the role of civil resistance as subsidiary to, and creating fertile political conditions for, armed struggle. But events produced an entirely different outcome. Civil resistance that came to be coordinated by the United Democratic Front ended up displacing armed struggle as the main weapon against the oppressive state. This shift occurred through the 1970s and 1980s, the decisive period in the struggle to end racial oppression of black people in that country.
Dr. Schock examines an under-studied aspect of civil resistance: the impact of a simultaneous violent movement on the outcome of a nonviolent resistance movement. That is, does a violent challenge operating contemporaneously with a nonviolent challenge increase or decrease its likelihood of success? A common assumption is that a violent challenge increases the leverage of a nonviolent one, thereby increasing its likelihood of success (positive radical flank effect). An alternative assumption is that a violent challenge undermines the position of a nonviolent challenge, thereby decreasing its likelihood of success (negative radical flank effect).