An innovative study that examines how peaceful, domestic tactics by individual human rights activists and organizational activists, with public support, can force an authoritarian regime to make key concessions. Robert Press explores the creation and impact of a culture of resistance. He examines how domestic pressure can be more important than foreign pressure for political reform, especially in underdeveloped, authoritarian states. This study of contemporary Kenya fills a gap in traditional social movement theory to show how a resistance movement actually starts. Contrary to long-dominant theory, the book shows how the initiative for such a movement can come from activists themselves in the face of severe obstacles in society. With its unique findings on the effects of individual activism and peaceful resistance, this book will attract a broad audience in the study and practice of international relations, comparative politics, sociology, interest groups, peace and conflict, and human rights.
'…takes up the challenge of applying - and revising - social movement theory in the transitional polities of the South…Against dominant political process models, Press makes an agency-based argument and against views that emphasize the role of transnational NGOs for democratization, he sees the source of change as a "culture of resistance" based on courageous and self-generated domestic activists.' Sidney Tarrow, Cornell University, USA 'Press puts heroic democracy and human rights activists at the center of his account of the ongoing process of reform in Kenya. Brokering great risks and encountering harsh repression, a few individuals repeatedly challenged an authoritarian government, building a culture of resistance, inspiring support and forcing government to respond. This important book shows how, offering lessons for scholars and activists as well as inspiration.' David S. Meyer, University of California, Irvine, USA '…I commend Press for his bold move to apply social movement theory in the study of democratization in Africa for the first time. It is essential reading for all those interestedin social movements, human rights, and the politics of democratization in the South.' African Studies Review 'Press presents a convincing narrative based on extensive archival research and interviews with some 70 activists.' Political Studies Review
Contents: About the author; Preface; Acknowledgements; Introduction; Establishing a culture of resistance: theoretical perspectives; Repression and resistance in Kenya: historical perspectives; Knocking at the door: individual activism; Opening the door: organizational activism; Entering the bastille (peacefully): from resistance to elected power; Mass public support: a key element in a culture of resistance; Conclusion. Appendices: A: methodology; B: human rights treaties in Kenya; C: socio-economic profiles of Kenya; D: repression and torture in Kenya; Select bibliography; Index.