Breaking Laws: Violence and Civil Disobedience in Protest questions the complex relationship between social movements and violence through two contrasted lenses; first through the short-lived radical left wing post ’68 revolutionary violence, and secondly in the present diffusion of civil disobedience actions, often at the border between non-violence and violence. This book shows how and why violence occurs or does not, and what different meanings it can take. The short-lived extreme left revolutionary groups that grew out of May ’68 and the opposition to the Vietnam War (such as the German Red Army Faction, the Italian Red Brigades, and the Japanese Red Army) are without any doubt on the violent side. More ambiguous are the burgeoning contemporary forms of "civil" disobedience, breaking the law with the aim of changing it. In theory, these efforts are associated with non-violence and self-restraint. In practice, the line is more difficult to trace, as much depends on how political players define and frame non-violence and political legitimacy.
Isabelle Sommier is Full Professor of Political Sociology at Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne University, former director of the CRPS (Centre de recherches politiques de la Sorbonne) and currently Deputy Director of the CESSP (Centre européen de sociologie et de science politique, a fusion between CRPS and CSE Bourdieu institute). She has published on the theory of social movements, political violence, radicalization and terrorism.Graeme Hayes is Reader in Political Sociology at Aston University, UK. He is joint Editor of Environmental Politics and Consulting Editor of Social Movement Studies, and has published widely on non-violent action, environmental movements, and protest traditions.Sylvie Ollitrault is Senior researcher at CNRS-France, Rennes University. She has published on French environmental movements, NGO action and protest movement. She is involved in numerous academic networks (AFSPIPSA-ECPR) on Green movements.