Peaceful Resistance: Advancing Human Rights and Democratic Freedoms, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Peaceful Resistance

Advancing Human Rights and Democratic Freedoms, 1st Edition

By Robert M. Press


248 pages

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Paperback: 9781138262539
pub: 2016-10-19
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Hardback: 9780754647133
pub: 2006-06-20
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315247212
pub: 2017-03-02
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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

Table of Contents

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.

About the Author

Robert M. Press grew up in Missouri, USA, where he graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in journalism. After working in Africa for the U.S. Agency for International Development, he and his wife, Betty Press, hitch-hiked and flew around the world for two years. He then worked as a staff writer for The Christian Science Monitor in various locations, including eight years based in Kenya (1987-1995), travelling across East and West Africa with his wife, a photographer. He was a Visiting Professor at Principia College in Elsah, Illinois, USA, and an Adjunct Professor at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, USA, before moving to Mississippi. He is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, International Affairs and International Development at the University of Southern Mississippi, USA.

About the Series

Ethics and Global Politics

Ethics and Global Politics
Since the end of the Cold War, explorations of ethical considerations within global politics and on the development of foreign policy have assumed a growing importance in the fields of politics and international studies. New theories, policies, institutions, and actors are called for to address difficult normative questions arising from the conduct of international affairs in a rapidly changing world. This series provides an exciting new forum for creative research that engages both the theory and practice of contemporary world politics, in light of the challenges and dilemmas of the evolving international order.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / Human Rights