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

The Methods of Nonviolent Protest and Persuasion

Formal Statements

Communications with a wider audience

Group representations

  • 013. Deputations
  • 014. Mock awards
  • 015. Group lobbying
  • 016. Picketing
  • 017. Mock elections

Symbolic public acts

Pressures on individuals


  • 038. Marches
  • 039. Parades
  • 040. Religious processions
  • 041. Pilgrimages
  • 042. Motorcades

Honoring the dead

Public assemblies

Withdrawal and renunciation

The Methods of Noncooperation

Social Noncooperation

Ostracism of persons

Noncooperation with social events, customs and institutions

Withdrawal from the social system

Economic Noncooperation: Boycotts

Action by consumers

Action by workers and producers

  • 078. Workers' boycott
  • 079. Producers' boycott

Action by owners and management

Action by holders of financial resources

Action by governments

Economic Noncooperation: Strikes

Symbolic strikes

  • 097. Protest strike
  • 098. Quickie walkout (lightning strike)

Agricultural strikes

Strikes by special groups

Ordinary industrial strikes

Restricted strikes

Multi-industry strikes

  • 116. Generalised strike
  • 117. General strike

Combination of strikes and economic closures

  • 118. Hartal
  • 119. Economic shutdown

Political Noncooperation

Rejection of authority

Citizens’ alternatives to obedience

Action by government personnel

Domestic governmental action

The Methods of Nonviolent Intervention

Psychological intervention

Physical intervention

  • 162. Sit-in
  • 163. Stand-in
  • 164. Ride-in
  • 165. Wade-in
  • 166. Mill-in
  • 167. Pray-in
  • 168. Nonviolent raids
  • 169. Nonviolent air raids
  • 170. Nonviolent invasion
  • 171. Nonviolent interjection
  • 172. Nonviolent obstruction
  • 173. Nonviolent occupation

Social intervention

Economic intervention

Political intervention

Additional Methods (named subsequent to Sharp’s list)

  • 199. Nonviolent confinement
  • Other...