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It is important to document campaigns so people can learn from them. Just as we have learned from the nonviolent campaigns of people throughout time and around the world, documenting our own struggles and stories may help people in other times and places. This guide, created for WRI's Nonviolent Social Empowerment case studies, can be used by an individual or group to determine the information needed to construct a case study of a campaign. This guide can also be used to remind us of what we need to consider in organising a campaign.


  • Nature of the campaign - what was/is the issue? when did it start/finish?
  • Geographical and (brief) historical context
  • Participants - who (analysis of class, race/ethnic, gender, religious group, age, sexuality, ability, other) - did this change at different phases of the movement?


  • Starting point
  • Were there (have there been) distinct phases?
  • Were there particular moments of expansion?
  • What were the peaks?
  • What were other key events?


  • Was there a public profile of wanting to avoid violence?
  • Was there a declared public policy of nonviolence?
  • If so, what was meant by nonviolence?
  • Was there consensus around this? What kind of differences around this?
  • What measures were taken to implement a policy of nonviolence?
  • Was there nonviolence training? Were there nonviolence guidelines?
  • Was the campaign seen as shifting the values of society more towards nonviolence?
  • Were there particular sources of inspiration for types of action or ways of organising?


  • What use was made of official channels, lobbying, electoral processes, constitutional mechanisms, and with what impact?
  • How was the mainstream media used?
  • What role or influence did they have?
  • How did they try to develop or use theit own public media or alternative media? With what impact?
  • Did the campaign try to establish alternatives? Were they meant to be temporary or permanent? What happened?
  • What kind of means did they use to build a movement culture or sense of connectedness? To what effect?
  • Did they use withdrawal of cooperation as a tactic? At what stage? With what effect?
  • Did they try to directly disrupt of obstruct an activity they were campaigning against? At what stage? With what focus? With what participation? With what effect?
  • How did they use conventional means of protest? How did they combine them with other methods?


  • Did the campaign agree on a formal structure?
  • What informal structures played an important role?
  • Was the campaign concerned to have a participatory structure of organisation and decision-making? If so, how were people trained in the process?
  • How did the campaign link with other groups/movements?
  • What importance did you give to coalition-building? With what criteria for alliances?
  • How did the campaign address the needs of activists to learn, to grow, to rest, to sustain their commitment?
  • How did the campaign address the possible contradiction between the needs of security and the desire for participation?
  • What kind of repression did the movement expect to face? What provision did they make to support the people most affected?
  • Did the campaign have a clear time frame and concept of strategic development?
  • How did the campaign develop its resources (human, social, economic)?

Goals and outcomes

  • What were the initial goals?
  • How have the goals evolved? Why?
  • Was it an aim to empower participants? In what way?
  • How were the goals framed - eg with what type of slogan?
  • Was there the flexibility to revise goals, eg to respond to particular events, or to build on success?
  • How did they expect the institution holding power of those who 'benefit' from being dominant to change? (eg to be converted, to accommodate some of your demands, to be coerced into accepting the demands, or to disintegrate/dissolve)
  • To what extent did they achieve their goals? - short, medium, long term
  • With what side effects? - positive and negative
  • Did their adversary make any mistakes that significantly helped their cause?


All the questions have some kind of link with empowerment. This concluding section returns to some themes but with more focus. Answers need to encompass the dimensions of power within, power-with and power-in-relation to.

  • Who was empowered? to be or do what? (to join in, to share responsibility, to take

initiative, to maintain their activism)

  • What contributed to this sense of empowerment? (eg training, group confidence,

achieving strategic goals)

  • How did the experience of different phases of a movement affected the sense of


  • What about people involved who did not feel empowered?
  • How were strategies of empowerment discussed / constructed? personal, group,


  • Was any participant/group disempowered - how? How did this effect the campaign?

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