Ever wondered what the difference between distributed, decentralised and big organising is? Would you like to understand or clarify key terms related to civil resistance? Here is a list of resources we have gathered so far. If you know of any other dictionaries, glossaries and/or terminology lists please let us know so we can add to our list.
Dictionaries and Glossaries
Gene Sharp, Oxford University Press, 2011
From the 494 B.C. plebeians’ march out of Rome to gain improved status, to Gandhi’s nonviolent campaigns in India, to the liberation of Poland and the Baltic nations, and the revolutions in North Africa, nonviolent struggles have played pivotal roles in world events for centuries. Sharp’s Dictionary of Power and Struggle is a groundbreaking reference work on this topic by the “godfather of nonviolent resistance.” In nearly 1,000 entries, the Dictionary defines those ideologies, political systems, strategies, methods, and concepts that form the core of nonviolent action as it has occurred throughout history and across the globe, providing much-needed clarification of language that is often mired in confusion. Entries discuss everything from militarization to censorship, guerrilla theater, pacifism, secret agents, and protest songs. In addition, the dictionary features a foreword by Sir Adam Roberts, President of the British Academy; an introduction by Gene Sharp; an essay on power and realism; case studies of conflicts in Serbia and Tunisia; and a guide for further reading. Sharp’s Dictionary of Power and Struggle is an invaluable resource for activists, educators and anyone else curious about nonviolent alternatives to both passivity and violent conflict.
Includes over 1,000 entries, an essay on power and realism, two case studies, as well as the list of 198 methods of nonviolent action.
International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, Hardy Merriman and Nicola Barrach-Yousefi, 2021
Civil resistance is everywhere. Virtually every country and society in the world has instances in their past—and sometimes their present—where people protested, boycotted, petitioned, went on strike, or engaged in other nonviolent actions to advocate for their rights. No one culture created civil resistance or owns it. It belongs to all of humanity.
Yet, this history is frequently unrecognized and not taught in schools. Resources to learn how to successfully organize, strategize, and engage in nonviolent struggle are often not widely available. In fact, some governments deliberately suppress or ban this knowledge.
The study of civil resistance focuses on how people can fight for—and win—their rights, freedom, and justice, without violence. There is great value in developing and sharing best practices, research, and educational resources about how to do this. The more people know, the more effective they can be as they adopt nonviolent strategies to challenge oppression.
The amount of English-language literature in this field has rapidly expanded in recent decades, and demand for materials in languages other than English has also risen. We created this glossary to help make this knowledge more available to people around the world. Its primary goal is to help with the translation of information on civil resistance from English into other languages. We also believe that non-translators will find value in it, as a great deal can be learned by reading the definitions and commentary on each term.
The Glossary has also been translated into many languages. See translated versions.
Christopher Miller and Mary King, University for Peace, 2005
This glossary includes 81 terms related to peace and conflict studies, offering detailed definitions and descriptions.
Weronika Paszewska, Tectonica, 2021
Includes definitions of Digital campaigning, Mobilising, Digital Organising, Distributed Organising, Decentralised Organising, Big Organising, Relational Organising and Deep Organising.
Kaelyn, Autostraddle, 2017
Includes definitions and concepts related to Positionality; Types of Organizing Groups; Decision-Making Models; Campaign Strategy; Press & Media; Phonebanking; Person-to-Person Engagement; and Winning.
Community Organising Fellowship, 2022
- Activism - Terminology
- Campaigning - Terminology
- Civil resistance - Dictionary
- Organising - Dictionary
- Organising - Terminology