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Power as Subordination and Resistance as Disobedience: Non-violent Movements and the Management of Power

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This text synthesizes non-violent resistance theory (Sharp, 1973) and late modern power theory (Foucault, 1974), in an attempt to understand resistance to power. Contemporary non-violence research focuses on the power relation between the (free) Citizen and the (centralised) State, and does not consider the power which disciplines people's perception and behaviour in accordance with "truth-regimes", or non-violent activists. Hence, a modification of the consent theory is needed to destabilize its Cartesian assumption of a (non-violent) Subject with a free, autonomous and conscious will. At the same time, in opposition to prevalent interpretations of Foucault, I will argue that incorporated forms of power imply cooperative subordination. The actor still has a precarious space to choose or resist. This in turn, opens new space to understand resistance, which is indicated in the conclusion.


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