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Nonviolent Tactics Workshop

198 Methods of Nonviolent Action
Taken from Gene Sharp's ‘The Politics of Nonviolent Action’, 3 volumes, 1973, Porter Sargent, Boston, 902 pages, ISBN 0-87558-070-X. Please note that USA English spellings and terms are used in the following list as in the original.

Very limited annotation has been added in brackets "[…]" where a term may be unclear or misleading to a general reader; the usage is quite clear in the book (volume 2 contains details and extensive historical examples). A few notable historical examples have also been added here, again in brackets, but this does not do justice to the breadth of the original and is done because of the difficulty you may have in getting hold of the book. Examples marked * are not from Sharp's book.

The Methods of Nonviolent Protest and Persuasion

Formal statement

  1. Public speeches [e.g. 1934 speech by non-Nazi vice-chancellor in Germany expressing alarm and calling for restoration of freedoms]
  2. Letters of opposition or support
  3. Declarations by organisations and institutions [priests in Vichy France against deportation of Jews]
  4. Signed public statements
  5. Declarations of indictment and intention
  6. Group or mass petitions

Communications with a Wider Audience

  1. Slogans, caricatures, and symbols [Baum Jewish group in Berlin, 1941-2]
  2. Banners, posters and displayed communications
  3. Leaflets, pamphlets, and books
  4. Newspapers and journals
  5. Records, radio, and television [Czechoslovakia in 1968 most advanced use of radio for nonviolent resistance within a country]
  6. Skywriting and earthwriting

Group representations

  1. Deputations
  2. Mock awards [Dawn magazine's 'Adolf' awards named after 20th century dictator!*]
  3. Group lobbying
  4. Picketing
  5. Mock elections

Symbolic Public Acts

  1. Displays of flags and symbolic colours [Hungarian flags 1865 to Austrian emperor]
  2. Wearing of symbols [Jewish yellow star in WW2 adopted voluntarily]
  3. Prayer and worship
  4. Delivering symbolic objects [rats, rubbish etc]
  5. Protest disrobings [women protesting at men-only Forty Foot bathing place, Dublin*]
  6. Destruction of own property [tea in colonial North America]
  7. Symbolic lights [candles etc]
  8. Displays of portraits
  9. Paint as protest
  10. New signs and names [Poland in 1942, Northern Ireland ongoing*]
  11. Symbolic sounds
  12. Symbolic reclamations [e.g. planting seeds to reclaim land]
  13. Rude gestures

Pressure on Individuals

  1. "Haunting" officials [following them around etc.]
  2. Taunting officials
  3. Fraternisation [e.g. winning people over by being friendly as deliberate strategy]
  4. Vigils

Drama and Music

  1. Humorous skits and pranks [1956 East German skits on communist propaganda]
  2. Performances of plays and music
  3. Singing


  1. Marches
  2. Parades [marching in an organised manner as protest]
  3. Religious processions
  4. Pilgrimages [e.g. Gandhi, 1947, to persuade Muslims and Hindus to live together peacefully]
  5. Motorcades

Honouring the Dead

  1. Political mourning
  2. Mock funerals [e.g. 'Liberty']
  3. Demonstrative funerals [half a million attended Jan Palach's funeral, Prague, 1969]
  4. Homage at burial places

Public Assemblies

  1. Assemblies of protest or support
  2. Protest meetings
  3. Camouflaged meetings of protest [e.g. political 'banquets' in Russia, 1904-5] [when protests were banned in Marcos-era Philippines, protest jogs took place!*]
  4. Teach-ins

Withdrawal and Renunciation

  1. Walk-outs
  2. Silence
  3. Renouncing honours [during Ronald Reagan's Irish visit, some people handed back honorary degrees when he was awarded one*]
  4. Turning one's back.

The Methods of Social Noncooperation

Ostracism of Persons

  1. Social boycott
  2. Selective social boycott
  3. Lysistratic nonaction [where women refuse to sleep with their warring menfolk, named after Lysistrata in play of same name by Aristophanes]
  4. Excommunication [religious]
  5. Interdict [i.e. general excommunication of an area or district]

Noncooperation with Social Events, Customs and Institutions

  1. Suspension of social and sports activities [e.g. Norway in World War 11]
  2. Boycott of social affairs
  3. Student strike
  4. Social disobedience [e.g. fraternising with untouchables, India]
  5. Withdrawal from social institutions

Withdrawal from the Social System

  1. Stay-at-home
  2. Total personal noncooperation
  3. "Flight" of workers
  4. Sanctuary [giving refuge with religious connotations]
  5. Collective disappearance
  6. Protest emigration (hijrat)

The Methods of Economic Noncooperation: Economic Boycotts

Action by Consumers

  1. Consumers' boycott
  2. Non-consumption of boycotted goods [even where you've already bought them]
  3. Policy of austerity
  4. Rent withholding [e.g. withholding 'unjust' rents, Land League, Ireland, 1879]
  5. Refusal to rent
  6. National consumers' boycott
  7. International consumers' boycott

Action by Workers and Producers

  1. Workmen's boycott
  2. Producers' boycott [refusal to sell or deliver products]

Action by Middlemen

  1. Suppliers' and handlers' boycott

Action by Owners and management

  1. Traders' boycott
  2. Refusal to let or sell property
  3. Lockout [all examples given by Sharp are politically reactionary]
  4. Refusal of industrial assistance [by other firms]
  5. Merchants' "general strike"

Action by Holders of Financial Resources

  1. Withdrawal of bank deposits [e.g. people protesting about apartheid era S Africa]
  2. Refusal to pay fees, dues and assessments
  3. Refusal to pay debts or interest
  4. Severance of funds and credit
  5. Revenue refusal
  6. Refusal of a government's money [e.g. paper money]

Action by Governments

  1. Domestic embargo
  2. Blacklisting of traders
  3. International sellers' embargo [refusal to sell to another country]
  4. International buyers' embargo [prohibition of goods from specific country]
  5. International trade embargo

The Methods of Economic Noncooperation: The Strike

Symbolic strikes

  1. Protest strike
  2. Quickie walkout (lightning strike)

Agricultural Strikes

  1. Peasant strike
  2. Farm workers' strike

Strikes by Special Groups

  1. Refusal of impressed labour
  2. Prisoners' strike [e.g. USA 1943 against racial segregation at meals]
  3. Craft strike [i.e. a single craft, e.g. dressmakers]
  4. Professional strike [salaried or self-employed]

Ordinary Industrial Strike

  1. Establishment strike [at a single unit under one management]
  2. Industry strike
  3. Sympathetic strike [outlawed in UK under Thatcher regime*]

Restricted Strikes

  1. Detailed strike [leave or stop one by one]
  2. Bumper strike [taking on one firm at a time]
  3. Slowdown strike
  4. Working-to-rule strike
  5. Reporting "sick" (sick-in) [e.g. Garda Siochana 'blue flu' in the Republic over pay!*]
  6. Strike by resignation
  7. Limited strike [e.g. refusal to do marginal work or work more than 8 hours]
  8. Selective strike

Multi-Industry Strikes

  1. Generalised strike [less than a majority of industry]
  2. General strike

Combination of Strikes and Economic Closures

  1. Hartal [India; suspension of economic life to make a political point]
  2. Economic shutdown [everyone]

The Methods of Political Noncooperation

Rejection of Authority

  1. Withholding or withdrawal of allegiance [Hungary, America, Ruhr 1923, Ireland]
  2. Refusal of public support
  3. Literature and speeches advocating resistance

Citizens' Noncooperation with Government

  1. Boycott of legislative bodies [e.g. Ireland 1919]
  2. Boycott of elections [Northern Ireland, various*]
  3. Boycott of government employment and positions
  4. Boycott of government departments, agencies and other bodies [e.g. by unionists and loyalists in Northern Ireland, post Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985*]
  5. Withdrawal from government educational institutions
  6. Boycott of government-supported organizations
  7. Refusal of assistance to enforcement agents [Ireland 1881; cattle moved before bailiffs arrive]
  8. Removal of own signs and placemarks
  9. Refusal to accept appointed officials
  10. Refusal to dissolve existing institutions

Citizens' Alternatives to Obedience

  1. Reluctant and slow compliance [e.g. to paying taxes]
  2. Nonobedience in absence of direct supervision
  3. Popular nonobedience
  4. Disguised disobedience [e.g. banned newspaper changes its name]
  5. Refusal of an assemblage or meeting to disperse [e.g. France, 1789]
  6. Sitdown
  7. Noncooperation with conscription and deportation
  8. Hiding, escape, and false identities
  9. Civil disobedience of "illegitimate" laws [e.g. salt tax in British-occupied India]

Action by Government Personnel

  1. Selective refusal of assistance by government aides
  2. Blocking of lines of command and information
  3. Stalling and obstruction [scientists engaged in atomic research, Nazi Germany]
  4. General administrative noncooperation
  5. Judicial noncooperation
  6. Deliberate inefficiency and selective noncooperation by enforcement agents
  7. Mutiny [military refuse orders]

Domestic Governmental Action

  1. Quasi-legal evasions and delays
  2. Noncooperation by constituent governmental units

International Governmental Action

  1. Changes in diplomatic and other representations
  2. Delay and cancellation of diplomatic events
  3. Withholding of diplomatic recognition
  4. Severance of diplomatic relations
  5. Withdrawal from international organizations
  6. Refusal of membership in international bodies
  7. Expulsion from international organizations [USSR expelled from league of Nations over attack on Finland, 1939]

The Methods of Nonviolent Intervention

Psychological Intervention

  1. Self-exposure to the elements
  2. The fast: Fast of moral pressure [e.g. St Patrick to get King Trian to treat slaves well], Hunger strike [could be to death], Satyagrahic fast [Gandhian, intention to convert people but coercive elements]
  3. Reverse trial [defendants hold prosecutors and authorities to account]
  4. Nonviolent harassment [psychological harassment by various means]

Physical Intervention

  1. Sit-in
  2. Stand-in
  3. Ride-in [on public transport]
  4. Wade-in [e.g. on beaches]
  5. Mill-in [staying mobile]
  6. Pray-in
  7. Nonviolent raids
  8. Nonviolent air raids [e.g. leaflets]
  9. Nonviolent invasion [e.g. Goa 1955]
  10. Nonviolent interjection [placing body inbetween]
  11. Nonviolent obstruction [body used as physical barrier]
  12. Nonviolent occupation

Social Intervention

  1. Establishing new social patterns [social mixing across barriers]
  2. Overloading of facilities
  3. Stall-in [conducting legitimate business as slowly as possible]
  4. Speak-in
  5. Guerrilla theatre
  6. Alternative social institutions
  7. Alternative communication system ['samizdat' publishing in USSR]

Economic intervention

  1. Reverse strike [work in]
  2. Stay-in strike [strike but stay in work place]
  3. Nonviolent land seizure
  4. Defiance of blockades [e.g. Berlin in Cold war]
  5. Politically motivated counterfeiting
  6. Preclusive purchasing [buying resources so others can't get them]
  7. Seizure of assets
  8. Dumping [deliberately selling at low price]
  9. Selective patronage
  10. Alternative markets
  11. Alternative transport systems
  12. Alternative economic institutions

Political Intervention

  1. Overloading of administrative systems [e.g. excessive compliance as protest against USA involvement in Vietnam]
  2. Disclosing identities of secret agents
  3. Seeking imprisonment
  4. Civil disobedience of "neutral" laws
  5. Work-on without collaboration
  6. Dual sovereignty and parallel government [e.g. Ireland, 1919]