Handbook glossary of terms

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Boycott

Social, economic, or political noncooperation.

Bustcard

Pocket guideline with recommendations on what to do if stopped by the police while doing an action.

Campaign

A campaign is a connected series of activities and actions done over a period of time to achieve specific, stated goals. Campaigns are started by a group of people with a common understanding and vision, who identify the goals and begin the process of research, education and training that strengthens and grows the number of participants who engage in the activities and action.

Civil disobedience

Is the active refusal to obey certain laws, demands and commands of a government, or of an occupying power, without resorting to physical violence. It is one of the primary tactics of nonviolent resistance.

Consensus decision making

Consensus decision making differs greatly from majority decision making. While majority decision making often leads to a power struggle between two different solutions, consensus decision making aims to take everyone's concerns on board, often modifying a proposed solution several times in the process. It is very much based on listening and respect, and participation by everyone.

Constructive programme

Constructive programme is the process of building a new society in the shell of the old. As Robert Burrowes describes it: “For the individual, constructive programme meant increased power-from-within through the development of personal identity, self-reliance, and fearlessness. For the community, it meant the creation of a new set of political, social, and economic relations.” In cases where political revolutions have taken place but the population was not organized to exercise self-determination, the creation of a new society has been extremely difficult, and the usurpation of power by a new dictatorship has too often been the result.

Conflict Resolution

Reconciling opposing perspectives, stories, or experiences and deciding on a response that promotes and protects the human rights of all parties concerned.

Debriefing

Debriefing is a process to go through after an action, or after a training experience, sharing with other group members what you experienced and felt and eventually even what you learnt.

Direct Action

The words "nonviolent direct action" conjure up pictures of people sitting in the road to blockade an airbase. Strictly speaking, however, direct action is any action where individuals or groups act directly themselves to try to bring about change rather than asking or expecting others to act on their behalf. Interrupting a pro-nuclear sermon in church would be direct action; writing to a vicar's bishop to complain would be indirect action - either could be an effective way of raising the issue.

Empowerment

Supporting people to have more control over their own lives. Empowerment can involve people gaining skills (or having their own skills and knowledge), increasing self-confidence and developing self-reliance.

Facilitation

Is used in a variety of group settings, to describe the action of a facilitator whose role it is to work with group processes to ensure meetings run well and achieve a high degree of consensus, to help a group of people understand their common objectives and assists them to plan to achieve them without taking a particular position in the discussion.

Gender

The socially constructed roles and relationships of an between women and men; and between women and women, and men and men. Gender is an acquired identity that is learned, changes over time, and varies widely within and across cultures. Gender is different from sex.

Human Rights

Legal rights guaranteeing every human being's life, liberty and security of person, based on international treaties and law.

Mediation

A help in resolving conflicts. Mediation means that a third party helps the conflicting parties to deal with their conflict through dialogue. A mediator does not solve the conflict, but helps the opponents to get insight in their own and the other's needs and feelings, and to come out of the conflict in a way that is satisfactory for both.

Nonviolence

Either, (1) The behavior of people who in a conflict refrain from violent acts. Or, (2) Any of several belief systems that reject violence on principle, not just as impractical.
Otherwise, the term is best not used, since it often contributes to ambiguity and confusion. To describe specific actions or movements, the recommended terms are: "nonviolent action," "nonviolent resistance," or "nonviolent struggle."

Nonviolent action

A technique of action in conflicts in which participants conduct the struggle by doing -- or refusing to do -- certain acts without using physical violence. It is an alternative to both passive submission and violence. The technique includes many specific methods, which are grouped into three main classes: nonviolent protest and persuasion, noncooperation, and nonviolent intervention.

Nonviolent resistance

Nonviolent struggle, conducted largely by noncooperation, in reaction to a disapproved act, policy, or government. The broader terms "nonviolent action: and "nonviolent struggle" are therefore preferred to refer to the overall nonviolent technique of action and to action in which the nonviolent group also takes the initiative or intervenes, as in a sit-in.

Nonviolent struggle

A synonym for "nonviolent action." This term may be used also to indicate that the nonviolent action in a conflict is particularly purposeful or aggressive. "Nonviolent struggle" is especially useful to describe nonviolent action against determined and resourceful opponents who use repressive measures and countermeasures.

Pacifism

The opposition to war or violence as a means of settling disputes or gaining advantage. Pacifism covers a spectrum of views ranging from the belief that international disputes can and should be peacefully resolved; to calls for the abolition of the institutions of the military and war; to opposition to any organisation of society through governmental force (anarchist or libertarian pacifism); to rejection of the use of physical violence to obtain political, economic or social goals; to the condemnation of force except in cases where it is absolutely necessary to advance the cause of peace (pacificism); to opposition to violence under any circumstance, including defence of self and others.

People power

The power capacity of a mobilized population and its institutions using nonviolent forms of struggle. The term was especially used during the 1986 Philippine nonviolent insurrection.

Power

Power can be defined as the ability to have an impact on the world. Power may be seen in different forms:

  • Power with - power that comes from people acting in co-operation together. Individually, they may be powerless, but together they are greater than the sum of their parts.
  • Power to - an enabling power, derived from an inner conviction, acquired knowledge or skill, an investment of trust or assistance from others, or from the ability to use external resources (eg money, tools).
  • Power over - the power of dominance in which the will of one person or group prevails.
  • Power against - the power to prevent or restrain or refuse

Snatch squad

A snatch squad is a police riot control tactic where several officers, usually in protective riot gear, rush forwards, sometimes in a flying wedge formation to break through the front of the crowd, to snatch one or more individuals from the demonstration which they are opposing.

Social movement

Are a type of group action. They are large informal groupings of individuals and/or organsations focused on specific political or social issues, in other words, on carrying out, resisting or undoing a social change.

Strategy and Tactics

The terms tactics and strategy are often confused: tactics are the actual means used to gain an objective, while strategy is the overall campaign plan, which may involve complex operational patterns activity and decision-making that lead to tactical execution.
Strategy: is a long term plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal, most often "winning". Strategy is differentiated from tactic or immediate actions with resources at hand by its nature of being extensively premeditated, and often practically rehearsed. Strategies are used to make the problem or problems easier to understand and solve.

Violence

The infliction on people of physical injury or death, or the threat to do so. All behavior cannot be neatly classified as either "violence" or "nonviolence," and several categories fall between these two extremes, including "destruction of property."
In reporting a demonstration or resistance movement which is primarily or exclusively nonviolent, care is required to distinguish it, for example, from the acts of violence by small numbers of persons (who may be undisciplined or deliberately disruptive for political reasons or as agents provocateurs). Similarly, a demonstration should not be described as "violent" when it is violently attacked by police or troops but nevertheless maintains its nonviolent discipline.