ISBN: 978-1-5381-6539-3

Isak Svensson

Uppsala University

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Civil resistance stands on two legs. One is active resistance against violence and oppression where activists try to challenge and de-construct existing power hierarchies, for example through demonstrations, boycotts, strikes, and acts of symbolic resistance. The other leg is activity against violence and oppression using a constructive approach, trying to manifest the aspirations, provide a positive example, and illustrate what is possible. Gandhi coined this the ‘constructive program’. Research on civil resistance has overwhelmingly focused on the first, with far less attention to the constructive element. Therefore, Constructive Resistance fills an important lacuna. The authors argue that civil resistance is more likely to be successful if the resistance campaigns are able to find creative ways of balancing resistance with construction. The book develops the concept of constructive resistance, defined as ’initiatives where people start to build elements of the society they desire independently of and in opposition to the dominant structures in place’ (p 1) and identifies how it has been manifested across different contexts. The book draws from a wide range of civil resistance campaigns over various issues, such as democracy, environment, land rights, indigenous rights, as well as social and economic justice. Evidence is drawn from civil resistance campaigns in Poland (1976–81), South Africa (1950s–94), and Mexico (1994–), as well as Norway (1970s–80s) in addition to global social movements. While it could be questioned why mainstreaming in this book is viewed as a risk rather than an indicator of success of constructive resistance, this book is still a still significant study that will add to the field of civil resistance in the years to come.