From Resistance to Participation? The Role of Nonviolent Mass Movements after Regime Change
Schott, Berenike Laura
Davis, Rochelle A
McCarthy, Eli S
This study investigates the role that civil resistance movements play in democratic transitions. It explores challenges and opportunities preventing or enabling these movements to engage effectively in contexts of regime change, using the framework of strategic nonviolence theory and practice. Literature on transitions, civil society, and democratization is discussed to explore ways in which it can complement strategic nonviolence theory. Together, the theories point to three key capabilities that civil resistance movements should try to foster if they are to succeed during periods of political transition: Democratic organizational structures and ideals among all groups constituting the movement; a relationship to the new government that balances sufficient access for participation with necessary autonomy; and the capacity to unite civil society while respecting pluralism.Three comparative case studies are used to illustrate these challenges and highlight further gaps in research on civil resistance and transitions: the Chilean movement against Pinochet 1983-1989; the Serbian movement against Milosevic 1990-2000; and the Egyptian movement against Mubarak in 2011. A review of historical documents, posters, and resistance groups' website content, as well as expert interviews and presentations informed the analysis for this project. The research resulted in two main findings. First, the case studies accentuate the difficulties that grassroots groups face when seeking to remain relevant and influential compared to elite members of the resistance. Second, they demonstrate the importance of building bridges across ideological divides during and after the resistance campaign to defend democratic gains and work toward reconciliation and peace.
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