120 Methods of Non-Violent Civil Disobedience

Run out of ideas. Why not get together with a few people and try some of these?

“Democracy requires civil disobedience. Without civil disobedience, democracy does not exist.”
– US Historian Howard Zinn (get his full court testimony from the mid-1980s in the video below)

(The following historical methods have been compiled from: Gene Sharp, The Politics of Nonviolent Action, Vol 2, The Methods of Nonviolent Action, Porter Sargent Publishers, Boston, 1973. A further compilation of 198 methods from Sharp’s book can be found at the Albert Einstein Institution: http://www.aeinstein.org/organizations103a.html)


Public speeches
Letters of opposition or support
Declarations by organisations
Signed public statements
Mass petitions
Slogans, caricatures, symbols
Banners, posters
Leaflets, pamphlets, newspapers
Records, radio, TV, video
Skywriting, earthwriting
Group lobbying
Mock awards
Mock elections
Displays of flags, symbolic colours
Wearing of symbols
Delivering symbolic objects
Prayer and worship
Protest disrobings (nude-in)
Destruction of own property (e.g. draft cards, GM seeds)
Candle processions
Symbolic reclamations (e.g. planting trees/seeds in commons, cultivating waste land)
Rude gestures
Haunting officials
Taunting officials (e.g. laugh-in)
Humorous skits, pranks, music
Singing (satirical)
Marches (target place)
Parades (no target place)
Mock funerals
Protest assemblies
Teach-ins (various political viewpoints, audience participation)
Turning one’s back
Renouncing honours

St John, Kropotkin


Social boycott (ostracism)
Sexual strike by wives
Suspension of social/sports activities
Boycott of social events
Student strike
Social disobedience (e.g. breaking workplace regulations, violating dress/behaviour code, fraternising with ‘outsiders’)
Withdrawal from social institutions (parties, churches)
Stay-at-home (leaving streets and places of entertainment deserted)
Total personal non-cooperation (e.g. by COs)
Protest emigration


Consumers’ boycott
Policy of austerity
Workmen’s boycott (of supplies, tools)
Producers’ boycott (selling strike, e.g. farmers)
Suppliers’ and handlers’ boycott (e.g. wharfies refusing to ship arms or uranium)
Traders’ boycott (retailers’ refusal to sell/stock goods)
Retailers’ general strike (closing of all stores and businesses)
Refusal to pay fees, dues, rent
Refusal to pay debts or interest
Revenue refusal (tax strike)
Withdrawal of bank deposits/shares
Protest strike
Lightning strike (quickie walkout)
Prisoners’ strike
Professionals’ strike
Company strike
Industry strike
Sympathetic strike
Go-slow strike
Work-to-rule strike
Sick-in strike (take a sickie)
Selective strike
Stay-in strike (occupation, active strike)
General strike
Economic shutdown (general strike plus shops closed)

FAI poster Spanish Revolution 1930s


Withdrawing allegiance
Refusal of public support
Boycott of legislative bodies
Boycott of elections
Boycott of government employment
Boycott of government agencies
Refusal of help to enforcement agents
Refusal to accept appointed officials
Reluctant and slow compliance
Popular non-obedience (e.g. curfews, censorship)
Disguised disobedience (e.g. medical certificates for COs)
Refusal of assembly to disperse
Non-cooperation with conscription or deportation
Hiding, escape, false identities
Civil disobedience of illegitimate laws
Government personnel: stalling, inefficiency, blocking communication lines
Judicial non-cooperation


Self-exposure to the elements
The fast or hunger strike
Reverse trial (defendants become prosecutors)
NV harassment (haunting, taunting, posters)
Mill-in (e.g. in MP’s office, mobile)
Ride-in (e.g. freedom ride)
NV invasion (e.g. of military site)
NV interjection (impeding officials, psych)
NV obstruction (physical)
NV occupation
NV land seizure
Overloading facilities (paralysing)
Stall-in (go-slow of legitimate activity)
Speak-in (interrupting meeting, service, interview)
Guerrilla theatre (disrupting official event)
Alternative social or economic institutions
Alternative communication systems
Seeking imprisonment
Dual sovereignty/parallel government

Delacroix, Liberty on the Barricades


~ by Peter Lach-Newinsky on September 17, 2010.

5 Responses to “120 Methods of Non-Violent Civil Disobedience”

  1. This is very useful information. Thanks a million for it. It will help us a lot in Cameroon.

    • Thanks Afinyi, glad to be of service. As mentioned, the source is the work of Gene Sharp (The Politics of Non-Violent Action, 3 volumes, Porter Sargent Publishers, Boston 1973, fifth printing 1984, ISBN 0-87558-070-X). In solidarity, Peter

  2. Thank you for this list. Just a point however, this are examples of non-violent action, and not civil disobedience. Civil disobedience, by definition must be against the law (both violent and non). Good job, but a bit misleading.

  3. […] Source: 120 Methods of Non-Violent Civil Disobedience […]

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