The Paradox of Violence Accompanying Nonviolent Movements

Grantee Information

Name: Monika Onken
Project duration: May 2015 – April 2017

PhD Project Description

This study sheds light on the strategic effectiveness of violence occurring during nonviolent campaigns by explicitly focusing on the interplay of these strategies. In particular it answers the question under which conditions radical flanks increase or decrease the likelihood of success of simultaneous nonviolent campaigns.

Academic literature has only recently acknowledged the effectiveness of unarmed insurgencies as a force of political change. Its findings have widely been based on a dichotomous understanding of violent and nonviolent strategies giving distorted pictures of reality, as in practice violent and nonviolent methods are often mixed and not mutually exclusive. Research has thus far failed to fully capture the dimension of nonviolent campaigns by systematically ignoring the strategic use of violence.

Resulting, this study rejects the prevailing separation of strategies. Instead it introduces a continuous spectrum of mixed strategies by collecting data on different types, severities and targets of radical flank violence. Furthermore, it disaggregates radical flanks, and closely examines their varying compositions in order to encompass how they change the likelihood of success of nonviolent campaigns. With the help of qualitative and quantitative research complementing one another conclusions are drawn based on worldwide campaigns, which took place during past decades.