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Unarmed Insurrections

People Power Movements in Nondemocracies

2004
Author:

Kurt Schock

Unarmed Insurrections

Pinpoints reasons for successes and failures of nonviolent protest movements

Kurt Schock compares, along with other examples, the successes of anti-apartheid in South Africa and the people power movement in the Philippines with the failures of the pro-democracy movement in China and the anti-regime challenge in Burma. Unarmed Insurrections looks at how these methods promoted change in some countries but not in others, and provides insight into the power of nonviolent action.

Winner of the American Political Science Association’s Comparative Democratization Section’s Best Book Award

For too long the study of nonviolence has been oddly disconnected from the broader study of social movements and revolutions. With this smart, admirably empirical book Kurt Schock has joined the two, greatly enriching both in the process.

Doug McAdam

In the last two decades of the twentieth century, a wave of “people power” movements erupted throughout the nondemocratic world. In South Africa, the Philippines, Nepal, Thailand, Burma (Myanmar), China, and elsewhere, mass protest demonstrations, strikes, boycotts, civil disobedience, and other nonviolent actions were brought to bear on a rigid political status quo.

Kurt Schock compares the successes of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, the people power movement in the Philippines, the pro-democracy movement in Nepal, and the antimilitary movement in Thailand with the failures of the pro-democracy movement in China and the anti-regime challenge in Burma. Schock develops a synthetic framework that allows him to identify which characteristics increase the resilience of a challenge to state repression, and which aspects of a state’s relations can be exploited by such a challenge.

By looking at how these methods of protest promoted regime change in some countries but not in others, this book provides rare insight into the often overlooked and little understood power of nonviolent action.


Unarmed Insurrections

Kurt Schock is associate professor of sociology at Rutgers University and a member of the graduate faculty in global affairs.

Unarmed Insurrections

For too long the study of nonviolence has been oddly disconnected from the broader study of social movements and revolutions. With this smart, admirably empirical book Kurt Schock has joined the two, greatly enriching both in the process.

Doug McAdam

An important contribution to the crucial, but little understood, dynamics of nonviolent action.

Lester Kurtz, University of Texas, Austin

Extremely well-written and sharply analytical. Among the most eye-opening of his refutations are that non-violent activists do not try to make themselves the targets of violent repression; that non-violent movements succeed by forcing their opponents to act rather than persuading them on moral grounds; and that non-violence is a pragmatic choice, not a principled rejection of armed methods. Overall, the book is a tightly packed gem. It is a must-read for all those doing research on social movements and for those with a more practical interest in protest outcomes. Given the incompleteness of political democracy in most nations, Schock’s analysis of the most effective strategies for resisting and changing authoritarian systems will be relevant to movements in virtually all settings.

Canadian Journal of Sociology Online

Unarmed Insurrections

Contents

Acknowledgments
Abbreviations

Introduction

1. From "People s War" to "People Power"?
2. Political Process and Nonviolent Action Approaches to Political Contention
3. People Power Unleashed: South Africa and the Philippines
4. People Power Suppressed: Burma and China
5. Challenging Monarchies and Militaries: People Power in Nepal and Thailand
6. Trajectories of Unarmed Insurrections

Notes
Works Cited

Index