Active Nonviolence as a Strategy for Social Change

Active nonviolence can be a powerful force for social change. We are most familiar with the examples of Gandhi’s Salt March and the marches and sit-ins of the civil rights movement. More recently, demonstrations, marches, and civil disobedience have captured our attention in the student-led efforts to prevent gun violence and in movements for immigrant rights, climate action, and Black Lives Matter. There are numerous nonviolent strategies and methods, including those listed on the Global Nonviolent Action Database and the Albert Einstein Institution websites.


Empirical research has shown that nonviolent resistance is twice as effective in the long term as violent methods. See, for example, the work of Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan, Why Civil Resistance Works.


Research and on-the-ground development of methods continue to unfold in areas such as restorative justice, mediation, unarmed civil defense and accompaniment, and trauma healing.  What we are learning about evolution, quantum physics, and the brain adds other dimensions to our understanding of active nonviolence, as pointed out in Nonviolence and the New Story of Human Nature, an article by Michael Nagler.