Understanding the outcomes and aftermaths of nonviolent resistance
Author(s)Wittels, Stephen Bernard
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Political Science.
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This dissertation examines variation in the immediate and long-term success of nonviolent resistance movements. It consists of three discrete papers. The first introduces three "organizational technologies of resistance:" a loose confederal, or "umbrella" administrative structure; a robust "operational core," or cadre of mid-level leaders; and access to levers of economic or political disruption. I argue that these attributes are important determinants of a campaign's probability of success and are most likely to be acquired through collaboration with civil society organizations in which they inhere naturally. Two bodies that satisfy this criterion with high regularity are industrial labor unions and structured religious communities. In the final section of the paper I posit that partnerships between these organizations and extant nonviolent movements are typically characterized by concerns about the consequences of victory and aggregate capabilities. To illustrate these hypotheses I conduct an historical case study of the African National Congress and the black labor movement. The second paper enclosed herein centers on three empirical tests. The first is intended to evaluate the prevailing theory in the study of nonviolent resistance today: that unarmed methods of struggle succeed at a greater rate than violent ones because they tend to elicit mass participation. Using causal mediation analysis, I estimate a robust null effect along this causal pathway. A subsequent test focuses on the unmediated relationship between a nonviolent movement's scale and its likelihood of success. Using an instrument for mass participation I find that this "power-in-numbers" hypothesis also lacks veracity. However, the third and final inquiry shows that if one models participation as a function of a movement's access to organizational technologies, mass participation does exert a robust positive effect on the likelihood of campaign victory. The last paper in this dissertation pertains to the aftermath of successful nonviolent resistance. Contra much of the extant literature, I find that only some of these campaigns yield a stable and democratic political dividend. Those that achieve victory in one year or less are substantially more likely to experience democratic slippage, coups d'état, and episodes of violent conflict.
Thesis: Ph. D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Political Science, 2017.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 129-149).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Political Science.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology