Browse Methods

Scholar Gene Sharp reviewed thousands of instances of nonviolent struggle and catalogued 198 different methods that were used in those encounters. At one point he called these methods "weapons," to emphasize that they are used in conflict situations. He listed them and gave historical examples of each in his 1973 book The Politics of Nonviolent Action. He grouped them into three broad categories: protest, noncooperation, and intervention, and then he further broke those into smaller classifications.

The methods of intervention may often be more directly confrontive, while the methods of noncooperation may in some situations be less so. These two groups of methods can be coercive, that is, make it impossible for an opponent to rule or carry out their policies. The other category, which Sharp calls "protest and persuasion," has methods that tend to be less confrontive, but in some situations (for example some police states) the opponent may consider them highly threatening and react accordingly.

We use Gene Sharp's classification of 198 methods in this database. He acknowledges that some methods can arguably be placed in a different category, depending on circumstance, and his classification should not be regarded as rigid. Some of the names of the methods may not be self-explanatory, so I have taken the liberty of interpreting some of them, often using Sharp's own words in the process. (Press the button "More" for further interpretation.) The material is drawn from his 1973 book, The Politics of Nonviolent Action: Part One, Power and Struggle (Boston: Porter Sargeant Publishers). Any errors I make of interpretation are my responsibility alone.

Additional methods: In researching for this database we have identified methods beyond Sharp's 198. They may of course be controversial. The user encountering them in reading the cases will probably want to return to this page and press the "More" button for those methods in order to discover our rationale for adding these methods to the 198. - George Lakey, 20/8/11

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Formal Statements

  • Media coverage of the nurse-ins were shown around US.
  • 004. Signed public statements

Communications with a wider audience

Group representations

  • 012. Skywriting and earthwriting
  • 014. Mock awards

Symbolic public acts

  • 022. Protest disrobings
  • 028. Symbolic sounds

Pressures on individuals

  • 030. Rude gestures
  • 032. Taunting officials

Drama and Music


  • 037. Singing
  • 038. Marches
  • 039. Parades
  • 040. Religious processions
  • 041. Pilgrimages

Honoring the dead

  • 042. Motorcades
  • 043. Political mourning
  • 044. Mock funerals
  • 045. Demonstrative funerals

Public assemblies

  • 046. Homage at burial places

Withdrawal and renunciation

  • 050. Teach-ins



Ostracism of persons

  • 055. Social boycott
  • 058. Excommunication

Noncooperation with social events, customs and institutions

  • 062. Student strike

Withdrawal from the social system

  • 065. Stay-at-home
  • 067. "Flight" of workers
  • 068. Sanctuary
  • 069. Collective disappearance


Action by consumers

  • 075. Refusal to rent

Action by workers and producers

  • 078. Workers' boycott

Action by middlemen

Action by owners and management

  • 083. Lockout
  • 084. Refusal of industrial assistance

Action by holders of financial resources

  • 089. Severance of funds and credit

Action by governments

  • 093. Blacklisting of traders


Symbolic strikes

  • 096. International trade embargo

Agricultural strikes

  • 099. Peasant strike

Strikes by special groups

  • 103. Craft strike

Ordinary industrial strikes

  • 104. Professional strike
  • 105. Establishment strike

Restricted strikes

  • 107. Sympathy strike
  • 108. Detailed strike
  • 110. Slowdown strike
  • 113. Strike by resignation
  • 114. Limited strike

Multi-industry strikes

  • 115. Selective strike
  • 116. Generalised strike

Combination of strikes and economic closures

  • 117. General strike
  • 118. Hartal


Rejection of authority

  • 119. Economic shutdown
  • 120. Withholding or withdrawal of allegiance

Citizens’ noncooperation with government

Citizens’ alternatives to obedience

  • 135. Popular nonobedience

Action by government personnel

  • 144. Stalling and obstruction

Domestic governmental action

  • 148. Mutiny

International governmental action


Psychological intervention

  • 160. Reverse trial

Physical intervention

  • 163. Stand-in
  • 165. Wade-in
  • 167. Pray-in
  • 170. Nonviolent invasion
  • 171. Nonviolent interjection
  • 172. Nonviolent obstruction

Social intervention

  • 175. Overloading of facilities
  • 176. Stall-in
  • 178. Guerrilla theatre
  • 179. Alternative social institutions

Economic intervention

  • 180. Alternative communication system
  • 181. Reverse strike
  • 182. Stay-in strike
  • 188. Dumping
  • 189. Selective patronage
  • 191. Alternative transportation systems

Political intervention

  • 196. Civil disobedience of "neutral" laws

ADDITIONAL METHODS (named subsequent to Sharp’s list)

  • 198. Dual sovereignty and parallel government