Civil Resistance Tactics in the 21st Century
By Michael Beer
Published: March 2021
As with weapons of violence, the weapons of civil resistance are numerous, diverse, and ever-evolving. In addition to strikes, boycotts, mass demonstrations and other widespread actions, new tactics are regularly being invented as civil resisters adapt to opportunities, challenges, and tactics by their opponents.
The expanding repertoire of nonviolent tactics (sometimes referred to as methods by researchers like Gene Sharp) is a testament to the ingenuity and creativity of activists around the world. Exploring new tactics—the primary purpose of this monograph—is not just a simple documentation or classification exercise. Studying each individual method opens up a world of civil resistance stories in various places and times. Each method offers insight into people’s perseverance and resilience in the face of repression, demonstrating not only a drive to fight for rights, freedom, and justice, but also the need to be innovative and adaptive in leading resistance struggles.
This monograph opens by introducing terms and fundamental concepts in civil resistance, followed by trends and underlying factors driving the growth of new civil resistance tactics worldwide. It then identifies shortcomings in the current categorization of tactics and offers an expanded list of new tactics as well as a refined framework for cataloging them. Finally, it offers clear takeaways for activists and practitioners, experts, researchers in the field, and others who are interested in supporting nonviolent movements effectively.
Published March 2021