The Diffusion of Nonviolent Campaigns

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Gleditsch, Kristian Skrede & Mauricio Rivera Celestino (2017) The Diffusion of Nonviolent Campaigns, Journal of Conflict Resolution 61(5): 1120–1145.

​Existing research has uncovered strong geographical clustering in civil war and a variety of diffusion mechanisms through which violence in one country can increase the risk of outbreaks in other countries. Popular coverage of nonviolent protest often emphasizes regional waves like the 1989 revolutions in Eastern Europe and the Arab Spring. However, most research on nonviolence focuses only on features within countries affecting motivation and opportunities, and we know little about the possible role of diffusion and transnational factors. We detail how nonviolent campaigns in other states can increase nonviolent mobilization and direct action, highlighting important differences in the likely actors for violent and nonviolent direct action and the relevant diffusion mechanisms. We find strong empirical evidence for diffusion in nonviolent campaigns. The effects are largely confined to campaigns in neighboring countries, and there is little evidence of global diffusion. The potential diffusion effects are also specific to whether dissent is violent and nonviolent rather than general political instability. Moreover, we find that the effects of neighboring campaigns on nonviolent direct action apply only in cases with plausible motivation for contesting the government, and the effects are stronger when the regional environment can help expand opportunities for organizing dissent.

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Kristian Skrede Gleditsch

Kristian Skrede Gleditsch

Professor, Department of Government, University of Essex