Association for Behavior Analysis International

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38th Annual Convention; Seattle, WA; 2012

Event Details

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B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Paper Session #191
CE Offered: BACB

Why Civil Resistance Works: The Future of Nonviolent Conflict

Sunday, May 27, 2012
2:00 PM–2:50 PM
6A (Convention Center)
Area: CSE; Domain: Applied Research
CE Instructor: Mark A. Mattaini, Ph.D.
Chair: Mark A. Mattaini (Jane Addams College of Social Work)
ERICA CHENOWETH (Wesleyan University)
Erica Chenoweth is an Assistant Professor of Government at Wesleyan University. From June 2011 through August 2012, Chenoweth will be a Visiting Scholar in residence at the Institute of International Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. She teaches courses on international relations, terrorism, civil war, and contemporary warfare. She serves as a Member of the Board for the International Security and Arms Control Section of the American Political Science Association (2011-2013), and as an Academic Advisor to the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict. Previously, she has been a Fellow (2006-2008) and an Associate (2008-2010) at the International Security Program at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and a Visiting Fellow at the Institute of International Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. Chenoweth was the 2010 recipient of the Carol A. Baker Memorial Prize, which recognizes excellence in junior faculty teaching and research at Wesleyan. Chenoweth has authored several books, including Why Democracy Encourages Terrorism (under contract with Columbia University Press); and Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict (Columbia University Press, August 2011) with Maria J. Stephan of the U.S. State Department. She also co-edited Rethinking Violence: States and Non-State Actors in Conflict (MIT Press, 2010) with Adria Lawrence of Yale University. Chenoweth's research program involves three main questions: why do non-state groups use political violence, what are the alternatives to political violence, and how can states best combat non-state political violence? Her book, tentatively entitled Why Democracy Encourages Terrorism (under contract with Columbia University Press), investigates the reasons why non-state actors resort to violence in democracies despite the availability of legal methods of protest. Her findings suggest that political competition within democracies compels conventional interest groups to compete, causing a "cascade effect" in which groups escalate their tactics to outbid one another for power. The research for this project was partially funded through a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship from the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence at the University of Maryland. In another project, Why Civil Resistance Works (with Maria Stephan), Chenoweth researches the conditions under which nonviolent resistance methods are more effective than violent methods in achieving strategic goals such as regime change, expelling foreign occupiers, or achieving self determination. In fall 2009, Chenoweth commenced a follow-up project that investigates how the tactical evolutions of nonviolent and violent insurgencies have affected their strategic outcomes. Chenoweth is also co-lead investigator on a project entitled Dealing with the Devil: When Bargaining with Terrorists Works (with Laura Dugan). This project assesses the efficacy of different counterterrorism policies in the Middle East since 1980 as part of a broader set of projects affiliated with START.

Professor Erica Chenoweth discusses her book with Maria Stephan, Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict. In this groundbreaking book, the authors find that between 1900 and 2006, campaigns of nonviolent resistance were more than twice as effective as their violent counterparts. Attracting impressive support from citizens that helps separate regimes from their main sources of power, these campaigns have produced remarkable results. In this talk, Chenoweth details the factors enabling such campaigns to succeed; and, at times, causing them to fail. She discusses how higher levels of participation contribute to enhanced resilience, a greater probability of tactical innovation, increased opportunity for civic disruption (and therefore less incentive for the regime to maintain the status quo), and shifts in loyalty among opponents' erstwhile supporters, including members of the military establishment. Successful nonviolent resistance movements tend to usher in more durable and internally peaceful democracies, which are less likely to regress into civil war. Chenoweth originally and systematically compares violent and nonviolent outcomes in different historical periods and geographical contexts, debunking the myth that violence occurs because of structural and environmental factors and is necessary to achieve certain political goals. Instead, she argues that violent insurgency is rarely justifiable on strategic grounds. Chenoweth will conclude her presentation by discussing the implications of this research for ongoing conflicts around the world.

Keyword(s): civil resistance, nonviolent struggle, social justice



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