This review originally appeared in the “Journal of Resistance Studies.” For more book reviews and peer-reviewed articles, subscribe to the journal.
People living in systems of domination and exploitation resist in many different ways. Some modes of resistance build and experiment with alternatives to the present in various forms, from the small to the large, the hidden to the open. An overall term for these efforts is “constructive resistance,” which covers initiatives in which people start to build the society they desire independently of the dominant structures already in place.
These are initiatives that not only criticize, protest, object, and undermine what is considered undesirable and wrong, but also simultaneously acquire, create, built, cultivate and experiment with what people need in the present moment — or what they would like to see replacing dominant structures or power relations. Within peace and conflict studies, this has been approached through Gandhi’s concept of the constructive program. In the anarchist and Marxists traditions and social movement literature, a related notion is prefigurative politics.
It is possible to study constructive resistance from many different perspectives, such as the level of organization behind them or the areas they cover. Constructive resistance can be carried out by many actors, from individuals, small associations and local communities to national organizations or organized global networks. It covers areas regarding the fulfillment of basic needs, communication, economic concerns and decision making structures.