By Jenny Gustafsson School of Authentic Journalism
Together with Maria J. Stephan, Chenoweth started researching civic resistance movements between 1900 and 2006, comparing them to their violent counterparts. A book, called Why Civil Resistance Works, based on that research came out in August 2011 and presents the findings — quite groundbreaking ones — that nonviolent tactics are twice as effective as violent ones.
For someone who spent her whole academic career studying the logic of violence, working with this research meant questioning many old-established assumptions.
“In the beginning, I was very skeptical,” Chenoweth says. “Now, it has totally changed how I look at my field. I realize that many of those who are committed to violence are doing so for the wrong reasons. They think that it works.”
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“Participation. That’s the single most important element for any successful campaign,” Chenoweth says. “For a movement to succeed, mass mobilization is required. And nonviolent movements have fewer obstacles for people to get involved. Violent campaigns are neither large enough nor diverse enough.”