Marginalization and mobilizing power in nonviolent social movements

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemChapter


In the growing field of nonviolent social movement studies, questions of power are often layered in inquiries into drivers of mobilization and dynamics of success, from the individual to the societal level. The different ways marginalized groups utilize power are not adequately theorized, however. Here I address paradigmatic approaches to understanding power in nonviolent movements, identifying conceptual limitations to explaining stratification among nonviolent resisters. In response, I develop a framework for better understanding the socially constructed origins of nonviolent power among different mobilized groups. I first provide a sociology of knowledge survey of common theories of power in nonviolent mobilization. I also review literature on mobilization among marginalized populations to identify valuable insights lacking in nonviolent movements studies. I then explore one case of marginalized nonviolent resistance, that of the Mothers of the Plaza Mayo who mobilized for an end to the Argentine Dirty War. Through this case, I develop a social constructionist framework that can be generalized to better understand how stratification shapes nonviolent resistance differently for different actors. I conclude by proposing a general framework of inquiry, guiding scholars to pay attention to four dimensions of conflict and resistance when examining the power dynamics of nonviolent movements: the temporal context of conflict, the degree of repression, actor status and positionality, and how nonviolent strategies and tactics correspond to each of these dimensions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationResearch in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change
PublisherEmerald Group Holdings Ltd.
Number of pages25
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameResearch in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change
ISSN (Print)0163-786X


  • Marginalization
  • Mobilization
  • Nonviolence
  • Power theory
  • Social constructionism
  • The Madres of the Plaza Mayo

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


Dive into the research topics of 'Marginalization and mobilizing power in nonviolent social movements'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this