Preliminary Analysis (April 10)

I am still migrating social movement data to the Tracker maps I set up, but from the data that I have collected, I see two important points:

  1. Donald Trump seems to attract more violence to the area he visits.
  2. Police shootings led to a surge of violence in the Black Lives Matter movement and increased the intensity in which it spread across the country.
  3. His campaign avoided areas that experienced high levels of social movement violence. (Cat and mouse)
  4. Marxist ideals seemed to be a driving ideological force in the Anti-Trump movement.
  5. Mexican flags were the second most used flags in the Anti-Trump movement.
  6. American Patriotism seems to be absent in both Black Lives Matter and Anti-Trump movements.
  7. Black Lives Matter is an organized social movement but it is decentralized. Anti-Trump is very disorganized, not central leadership. Yes, there is local leaders, but not national leaders.
  8. Evolution of the Black Lives Matter movement: more inclusion of other movements, ethnicities, etc.

Literature Review

Emotional Identity and Technology Theories

There are two major schools of thought in the existing literature on social movements that I will look at in this research project: emotional identity and technology theories and new social movement theories. Each school of thought has many concepts and scholars, so I will only present those that I believe are most relevant to my project, especially to the units of analysis I have chosen to study.

The first school of thought emphasizes the role emotion and technology have on identity construction in social movements (SMs). One proposed explanation for this phenomenon is the concept of “emotion cultures,” which hypothesizes that expectations about how movement members should feel about themselves and other groups are specified by “feeling” and “expression rules.” [1] Verta Taylor also writes that emotions can be used “to create solidarity and self-change among participants…[and to] influence elite and authorities.” [2] The concept of these “cultures” also seek to explain the politicization of the grievances of movement members. [3] I have also noticed that the rise of political correctness in the 21st century may also be affecting how prevalent these rules and cultures are in the anti-Trump and Black Lives Matter movements.

However, the rise of technology has also created a discussion on whether the Internet and “other new media” are effective enough to mobilize people to a cause, especially for the Black Lives Matter which seems to gain a significant amount of its support online via social media networks.[4] Nonetheless, William Gamson argued that the cyberspace is “not a particularly useful kind of space when it comes to building commitment, solidarity, and a strong sense of collective identity” (emphasis mine).[5] This could also explain the critique against “slacktivism” that is allegedly prevalent on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. However, forums and social media groups have been found to create “pseudo-gemeinschaft” experiences, or close pseudo social relations, that have led to collective identity formation, explains Karen Cerulo.[6] Without a doubt, the advancement of technology has influenced the growth and organization of modern SMs, but the apparent decline of the Marxist tendencies SMs traditionally follow also have an effect on them. We will explore this in the next section.

New Social Movement Theories

The second school of thought is a group of social movement theories that names itself “new” because they apparently “displace the old social movement of proletarian revolution associated with classical Marxism,” however there are some theorists that “seek to update” that same approach to SMs.[7] Roughly speaking, new social movements (NSMs) are those that started in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but whether or not that really matters remains a pending question in this school of thought.[8] There are several debates that Steven Buechler lays out that are worth looking into and can be defined by their own political and cultural versions.[9] One debate, titled “View of New Movements”[10] deals with defining just how ‘new’ these movements are: some theorists, like Russell Dalton and Manfred Kuechler, propose that NSMs are new because they draw on a “long-standing humanistic tradition” but also “search for pragmatic solutions” and resist “spiritual solutions” to society’s problems.[11] Others, like Claus Offe, suggest that NSMs have different “social bases” than ‘old’ SMs which focused on the “old poles of capital and labor.”[12] In addition to this division of groups of constituents, Offe explains that NSMs “deny accommodation to existing power and resist standard forms of co-optation.”[13] Recall that co-optation is one of the ways SMs can decline, according to Miller, so this particular point by Offe could be in favor of NSMs. In regards to the ‘old poles’ he mentions, I believe the social construction of race could be considered as a crucial ‘pole’ in new social movements.

Another debate Buechler explains deals with the class base, or class of supporters, of NSMs. He presents one argument from Russell Dalton, Manfred Kuechler, and Wilhelm Burklin who say that NSMs no longer rely on a specific class or ethnic base for support, as their Marxist predecessors do, but on popular support.[14] Buechler links their idea to George Steinmetz’s which says that the economic inequalities present in society are “relatively classless” in “advanced capitalist” societies and that is a reason for NSMs’ reliance on popular support.[15] This relationship can be backed up with U.S. data from a 2014 Pew Research Center report: “the U.S. is more unequal than most of its developed-world peers” while “the richest fifth [of U.S. families] held 88.9% of all wealth” in the country.[16] On the other hand, Klaus Eder argues that in advanced capitalist societies, it is not economic inequality that groups people together, but their cultures.[17]

Types of Nonviolence


In the next two sections, I will look at the different types of nonviolence John Roedel and William Marty define in their writings as well as provide examples to make their points clearer. Both scholars rely on the writings of others including Gandhi when presenting their own views.

Violence in social movements (SMs), according to Roedel, is not just the physical kind, but also verbal and structural violence, like imperialism and poverty.[18] More specific examples of this include the Jim Crow laws in the post-WW2 American South and verbal intimidation by state agents. Nonviolence, on the other hand, is defined by Roedel as a “refusal to submit to or inflict violence.”[19] It should be noted that merely fleeing from violence would be considered as an act of violence, according to Roedel, such as the desertion of a SM or indifference towards the oppressed of society.

Roedel also describes two branches of nonviolence that Gandhi has identified which I lay out, with examples, in Table 2.1 below: “strategic” and “principled” nonviolence.

Strategic Nonviolence Principled Nonviolence
The united embrace of nonviolence as a tactic. The unconditional embrace of nonviolence, on the basis of a moral or religious commitment.
Examples: The Dharasana incident, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, peaceful demonstrations, sit-ins, etc. Example: The observance of the ancient Buddhist concept of ahimsa, total nonviolence, including “deliberate inactivity against injustice.”[20]

Table 2.1 – Strategic and principled nonviolence according to Gandhi[21]

But in order to distinguish the differences between these two types of nonviolence, Gandhi writes that we must look at the motivations and character formation of nonviolent practitioners (NVPs). These differences can be seen in Table 2.2 below.

Strategic Nonviolence Principled Nonviolence
NVPs pay little to no attention to spiritual or religious aspect of nonviolence An NVP’s “relationship to God” and a “deep sense of the interconnectedness of all beings” is the central focus
NVPs consider it as solely a means of achieving one’s goals NVPs go through a process of self-development or character formation

Table 2.2 – Major differences between strategic nonviolence
and principled nonviolence according to Gandhi

Roedel also “models” his distinction between two other types nonviolence, sacrificial and nonsacrificial nonviolence, on René Girard’s distinction between sacrificial and nonsacrificial Christianity that can be found in the latter’s writing, Things Hidden since the Foundation of the World.

Sacrificial nonviolence is “ubiquitous, destructive, and mostly invisible,” according to Roedel’s interpretation of Girard’s views, and places a significant amount of value on suffering and death. Essentially, the “transformative effect” of sacrificial nonviolence is dependent on the intensity of the suffering endured by and the amount of NVPs in an incident. NVPs who engage in sacrificial nonviolence also “experience the inflation of self-divinization while they are still alive.” But a significant problem Girard sees in this type of nonviolence is that it leads to rivalries as NVPs compete against each other in giving up bigger sacrifices, which will eventually end in greater sacrifices, including violence. In the end, the NVP feels in control of the process.

On the other hand, nonsacrificial nonviolence is perceived by NVPs as being under the control of God or Christ, who they try to imitate in His “radical surrender to His Father,” in the Crucifixion. Nonsacrificial nonviolence also exposes the violence present in an oppressive situation and thus, “the violence of the larger situation is overcome.”  In addition to this, “there is no goal of conversion of the other” or the oppressor because, as stated before, God is in control of the situation.

Circling back to the Dharasana incident that I presented at the beginning of this narrative paper, Roedel uses it as an example of the failure of sacrificial nonviolence. The sacrifices that Gandhi’s supporters offered at the salt works, their own bodies, eventually led to new rivalries and a new desire for revenge that resulted in the “riots between Hindus and Muslims on the eve of Indian independence.” The Indian independence movement, Girard finally argues, ended with violence because of two reasons:

  1. NVPs were increasingly seen as not guilty as time went on, rendering the ritual of sacrificial nonviolence ineffective.
  2. “Without alternative means of achieving reconciliation, only apocalyptic violence is possible.”


William Marty identifies and criticizes three types of nonviolence and uses some writings of Dr. King to do so. These types are presented in Table 2.3. He also names a variety of factors that explain why many agree that nonviolence (NV) is more superior than violence. These are listed directly below:

  1. NV is an expression of love that accepts punishment rather than charging it against others.
  2. NV persuades participants to listen to his conscience out of their own freewill.
  3. NV is soul force, the law of civilized man, unlike violence which is the “law of the brute.”
  4. NV is oftentimes a teaching or tenet of religion.
Type of nonviolence Characteristics and Example(s)
  • Attempts to reach objectives by imposing burdens and suffering against opponents (depends on intensity of their suffering)
  • Lack the “special moral qualities claimed for persuasion”
  • No guarantee that NVPs who practice this type of NV are in the right
  • Requires some dependency on the oppressor

Examples: Economic boycotts, “die-ins,” sit-ins, highway closings, and other disruptive behaviors. Oppressive organizations like the Ku Klux Klan can also utilize this type of nonviolence.

  • Attempts to persuade opponents that they are in the wrong, but this can be used by both sides of the issue
  • No guarantee that NVPs who practice this type of NV are in the right
  • May take years, even generations, to persuade the oppressors that they are in the wrong, especially if oppression is the result of long-standing traditions and/or laws
  • Persuasive NV is more dogmatic than loving

Example: apartheid in South Africa took decades to dismantle, despite repeated efforts to persuade the white population of the evil of the system

  • NVPs of this type of NV may have “diverse motivations”
  • May reflect indifference to the sufferings of the oppressed (refusal to resist evil)

Example: Dr. King argued in Stride toward Freedom, that the lack of resistance to oppression lulls the oppressor and cooperates with evil.

Table 2.3 – Descriptions and critiques of three types of nonviolence, according to Marty

Conclusion of Literature Review

Many of the scholars and examples I presented in this section of the final narrative paper are from the 20th century but their theoretical analyses of these concepts have assisted me in forming my larger argument that nonviolent social movements are more effective than their violent counterparts. Although the existing consensus on this issue is, for the most part, theoretical, I hope to contribute to the literature through my scientific evaluation of the tactics, growth, membership, and effectiveness of two modern units of analysis; the Black Lives Matter and anti-Trump social movements.


[1] Taylor, Verta, and Nancy Whittier. “Analytical Approaches to Social Movement Culture: The Culture of the Women’s Movement.” In Social Movements and Culture, edited by Johnston Hank and Klandermans Bert, 177. University of Minnesota Press, 1995.

[2] Taylor, Verta. “Social Movement Participation in the Global Society: Identity, Networks, and Emotions.” In The Future of Social Movement Research: Dynamics, Mechanisms, and Processes, edited by Van Stekelenburg Jacquelien, Roggeband Conny, and Klandermans Bert, 47. University of Minnesota Press, 2013.

[3] Ibid, 38.

[4] Ibid, 45.

[5] Gamson, William A. “Safe Spaces and Social Movements.” In Perspectives on Social Problems. 35. 1996.

[6] Cerulo, Karen A. “Identity Construction: New Issues, New Directions.” In Annual Review of Sociology 23 (1997): 398.

[7] Buechler, Steven M. “New Social Movement Theories.” In The Sociological Quarterly 36, no. 3 (1995): 442.

[8] Ibid, 447.

[9] Ibid

[10] Ibid, 457.

[11] Ibid, 448.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Buechler, Steven M. “New Social Movement Theories.” In The Sociological Quarterly 36, no. 3 (1995): 453.

[15] Ibid.

[16] DeSilver, Drew. “5 Facts about Economic Inequality.” January 07, 2014. Accessed December 14, 2016..

[17] Buechler, 454.

[18] Roedel, John. “Sacrificial and Nonsacrificial Mass Nonviolence.” In Contagion: Journal of Violence, Mimesis, and Culture 15/16 (2008): 222.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Sharma, Satish. “Peace and Nonviolence in the Indian Religious Tradition.” I Peace Research 31, no. 1 (1999): 60-61.

[21] Roedel, 222.

Research Problem Statement

This research project attempts to analyze the growth and efficiency of the anti-Trump and Black Lives Matter social movements in the United States in real time. The project uses compiled data from news sources, journalists, media outlets, and first-hand accounts to identify and assess the findings.

Research Question(s)

  • Are nonviolent social movements more effective than violent social movements?
  • What are the similarities and differences between social movements of the 21st-century and 20th-century social movements?
  • How does the use of violence impact the growth of social movements?
  • How do social movements evolve over time?