KEY COMPONENTS OF SUCCESSFUL SOCIAL MOVEMENTS

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"For me, the most important lesson
[of the Freedom Movement] is that by respecting the fact that fellow activists could passionately disagree over strategy and tactics—yet remain allies—they strengthened SNCC and the Movement as a whole."
From Bruce Hartford's article in the current issue of Urban Habitat.
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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Nonviolent Direct Action: The Onion Theory

Bruce Hartford has just written an addition to his collection of essays,  notes and links on the discipline and strategy of nonviolent direct action.

He calls it his Onion Theory.
The purpose of Nonviolent Resistance is to affect peoples' thinking and build political movements for social change. From that perspective, Nonviolent Resistance is a broad concept encompassing education, organizing, alternative social structures, personal-witness, noncooperation — and, of course, direct action protests.
Some nonviolent actions are large-scale (boycotts, mass marches, strikes, civil non-cooperation, etc) others are engaged in by small groups (pickets, sit-ins, freedom rides, occupations, etc). Regardless of size, the point of a demonstration is to influence people towards affecting some kind of social/political change. When we study the actual impact of nonviolent protests it's like peeling away the layers of an onion, with each layer representing a different audience. From the core to the outer layer, the effect of a nonviolent protest on each audience varies in the number of people who are influenced, the intensity of the effect, and our control over the content of the message they receive.
At its simplest, the four basic layers of the protest onion are:
  1. Participants. The nonviolent resistors engaged in the protest.

  2. Observers. The individuals at the businesses or institutions the protest is targeting, and the uninvolved bystanders who encounter or observe the protest.

  3. Grapevine. Those who directly hear about the protest from some other person whom they know (including through personal social media such as Twitter, FaceBook, & etc).

  4. Media. Those who learn of the protest through impersonal mass media
READ MORE......

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