Nonviolent Tactics (Methods)

Nonviolent Tactics (Methods)

Tactics are discrete methods deployed to achieve a limited goal. The duration of a tactic depends on the objective and therefore varies according to the context. They are often employed in order to advance the goal of a civil resistance campaign or contribute towards a broader resistance movement. This database documents tactics across throughout history, across the globe, and in varying contentious conflicts.

Categories of Tactics

Categories of Tactics

We categorize nonviolent civil resistance methods into three major categories:

  1. What We Say (Acts of Expression),
  2. What We Don’t Do (Acts of Omission),
  3. What We Do and Create (Acts of Commission).

Read more about these categories, and find out about their sub-categories, below. 

Persuasive and Coercive Tactics

Persuasive and Coercive Tactics

Persuasive tactics constructively advocate for change. Generally, they are tactics which appeal to opponents and society with solutions to problems, reward an opponent, and creating a new or better institution or practice. For example, teach-ins, suspensions of planned strikes, or disobeying segregation through a ride-in are all examples of persuasive methods of nonviolence. 

Coercive tactics confront institutions and power structures, often disruptively, to raise costs on opponents to induce change. Rude gestures, marches, boycotts, strikes, and blockades are examples of coercive methods of nonviolence. 

"Saying" (Acts of Expression)

"Saying" (Acts of Expression)

“Saying” or Acts of Expression are tactics of protest and appeal. They include protesting through coercive communication such as yelling and chanting, as well as persuasive communication such as petitions and prayers. The four subcategories of “Saying" (Acts of Expression) are 

  1. Medium of Human Body
  2. Medium of Things
  3. Medium of Digital Technology
  4. Medium of Language
"Not Doing" (Acts of Omission)

"Not Doing" (Acts of Omission)

“Not Doing,” or Acts of Omission, are tactics of noncooperation and refraining – what we choose not to do. Noncooperation withdraws cooperation and consent from laws or social norms. Refraining withdraws from a disruptive activity as a gift to an opponent or society. Examples include various kinds of strikes and boycotts.

"Doing and Creating" (Acts of Commission)

"Doing and Creating" (Acts of Commission)

"Doing and Creating," or Acts of Commission, are tactics of intervention – what we do to disrupt or create things. Typically, these tactics are used with the primary purpose of obstructing an opponent, and creating new institutions or practices with the purpose of shifting or usurping power. Examples include parallel governments and blockades, and nonviolent occupations.

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