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

  • 002. Letters of opposition or support

Communications with a wider audience

Group representations

  • 013. Deputations
  • 015. Group lobbying

Symbolic public acts

  • 023. Destruction of own property
  • 026. Paint as protest
  • 029. Symbolic reclamations

Pressures on individuals

  • 031. "Haunting" officials
  • 033. Fraternization

Drama and Music


  • 038. Marches
  • 039. Parades
  • 041. Pilgrimages
  • 042. Motorcades

Honoring the dead

  • 043. Political mourning
  • 044. Mock funerals
  • 046. Homage at burial places

Public assemblies

  • 047. Assemblies of protest or support

Withdrawal and renunciation

  • 051. Walk-outs



Ostracism of persons

  • 056. Selective social boycott
  • 059. Interdict

Noncooperation with social events, customs and institutions

  • 063. Social disobedience

Withdrawal from the social system

  • 068. Sanctuary
  • 069. Collective disappearance
  • 070. Protest emigration (hijrat)


Action by consumers

  • 076. National consumers' boycott

Action by workers and producers

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

Action by middlemen

Action by owners and management

  • 081. Traders' boycott
  • 083. Lockout
  • 085. Merchants' "general strike"

Action by holders of financial resources

  • 090. Revenue refusal

Action by governments

  • 092. Domestic embargo
  • 094. International sellers' embargo


Symbolic strikes

  • 097. Protest strike

Agricultural strikes

Strikes by special groups

Ordinary industrial strikes

  • 105. Establishment strike
  • 106. Industry strike

Restricted strikes

  • 108. Detailed strike
  • 109. Bumper strike
  • 114. Limited strike
  • 115. Selective strike

Multi-industry strikes

  • 116. Generalised strike
  • 117. General strike

Combination of strikes and economic closures

  • 118. Hartal
  • 119. Economic shutdown


Rejection of authority

  • 120. Withholding or withdrawal of allegiance
  • 121. Refusal of public support

Citizens’ noncooperation with government

Citizens’ alternatives to obedience

  • 135. Popular nonobedience
  • 136. Disguised disobedience

Action by government personnel

  • 145. General administrative noncooperation

Domestic governmental action

  • 149. Quasi-legal evasions and delays

International governmental action


Psychological intervention

  • 160. Reverse trial
  • 161. Nonviolent harassment

Physical intervention

  • 164. Ride-in
  • 166. Mill-in
  • 168. Nonviolent raids
  • 171. Nonviolent interjection
  • 172. Nonviolent obstruction
  • 173. Nonviolent occupation

Social intervention

  • 176. Stall-in
  • 177. Speak-in
  • 179. Alternative social institutions
  • 180. Alternative communication system

Economic intervention

  • 181. Reverse strike
  • 182. Stay-in strike
  • 183. Nonviolent land seizure
  • 188. Dumping
  • 189. Selective patronage
  • 190. Alternative markets
  • 192. Alternative economic institutions

Political intervention

  • 197. Work-on without collaboration

ADDITIONAL METHODS (named subsequent to Sharp’s list)

  • 199. Nonviolent confinement