Scholars often overlook that an adequate explanation of why a movement uses violent means of protest requires an account of why it does not instead use nonviolent means. This essay argues that while paths to violence are multiple, there is one prevailing path to nonviolent protest-that which opens when a movement is politically cohesive. Cohesion approximates a necessary condition for nonviolent protest because such protest requires coordination and collective restraint. Conversely, fragmentation generates incentives and opportunities that increase the likelihood that protest will become violent. This argument, specified in terms of composite mechanisms and demonstrated by overtime variation in the Palestinian case, critiques the assumption that movements can be treated as unitary actors. It also shifts attention from movements' motivations to their organizational configurations.
- Arab-Israeli conflict
- Middle East
- Social movements
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Political Science and International Relations