Learning from Criticisms of Civil Resistance

Publication Name

Critical Sociology


In recent decades, civil resistance, also known as nonviolent action, has become more widely used among social movements and recognised by researchers. Alexei Anisin has usefully offered a critique of civil resistance theory and practice. His ideas are used as a basis for reflection and deeper understanding of both strengths and weaknesses of this approach. Inspired by Anisin’s questioning of the dataset used to compare nonviolent and violent anti-regime campaigns, we point to multiple neglected factors. Anisin contrasts quantitative nonviolence research unfavourably with medical and scientific research. Although Anisin’s image of science is idealised, it does point to the value of recognising the role of values in civil resistance research and in critiques of it.

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