November 19, 2018

Media and Resistance


1) Non Violent Resistance

Non Violence

Non-Violent Resistance

Stephan and Chenoweth

Does non-violent resistance against violent governments work?

If so… Why?

Non-Violent Resistance

What is non-violence?

"Nonviolent resistance is a civilian-based method used to wage conflict through social, psychological, economic, and political means without the threat or use of violence"

Non-Violent Resistance

Patterns of Non-violence

like violence… there are repertoires:

protests, boycotts, labor strikes, non-cooperation, non-violent intervention

excludes lobbying, election campaigning, legislating (traditional political channels)

Non-Violent Resistance

Strategic non-violence vs. Principled non-violence

principled non-violence: religious/ethical/philosophical commitment to not use violence

strategic non-violence: use of non-violent means to create disruptions that compel concessions from the opponent (no philosophical commitment needed!)

Non-Violent Resistance

Example from Anti-Lynching Movement:

  • NAACP used Protests
  • economic boycotts, leaving lynching communities

Non-Violent Resistance

Stephan and Chenoweth show…

  1. Non-violent resistance campaigns succeed more than violent campaigns
  2. Campaigns that shift loyalties of security forces and bureaucrats likey to win
  3. Costly to repress widespread nonviolent mobilization

Non-Violent Resistance

Why is nonviolence more effective?

Two key reasons

  • One is purely strategic
  • Another involves framing and media

Non-Violent Resistance

Non-violent Resistance is less threatening

  1. General public sees non-violent campaign as less threatening \(\rightarrow\) more support from public

  2. Government officials and security forces not in physical danger \(\rightarrow\) willing to switch support to protesters

Non-Violent Resistance

Non-violent Resistance makes repression backfire

When regimes use violence against non-violent movement:

  1. violence may backfire, producing greater costs for and opposition to the regime

  2. three different ways, with connection to media and framing

Non-Violent Resistance: Backfire

1) Mobilize popular support against regime

  • Violence against non-violent protesters morally wrong (RMT)
  • Broadens the movement beyond original focus (broader diagnostic frames/master frames)


More popular support puts pressure on regime (e.g. Indonesia and East Timor)

Non-Violent Resistance: Backfire

2) Encourages Defections from Security Forces/Bureaucrats

Creates moral costs

may find violence against fellow "ordinary" citizens unacceptable (RMT)

Creates political/personal costs

even if violence against citizens could be justified; jeopardizes other moral relationships

  • 'meta-relational' models: how can soldiers/police explain killing to their families, friends, neighbors?

Non-Violent Resistance: Backfire

3) Elicits External Sanction

Creates moral costs

Other countries/businesses/etc. may find this disproportionate violence immoral:

  • sanction, withdrawal of support to regime;
  • new support for protest movement

Creates political costs

Countries/businesses that support regime now open to criticism:

  • if shamed, will withdraw support; risk of scandal

Backfire and Media

Success of "backfire" depends on media campaigns:

  1. Audiences (domestic/international) must know about violent repression

  2. Audiences must know victims were nonviolent

  • If victims are "terrorists", "rebels", what happens?
  • Lynching and "Race Wars"

Backfire and Media

How to get desirable media coverage?

  • Public statements on nonviolent means; practice
  • Choice of targets that are high visibility
  • Presence of independent sources to document what happens
  • Means to disseminate what happens