Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Political Science

Content Description

1 online resource (v, 243 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Peter Breiner

Committee Members

Morton Schoolman, Torrey Shanks


civil disobedience, freedom, political ideology, political resistance, poststructuralism, revolution, Resistance (Philosophy), Government, Resistance to, Political participation, Liberty

Subject Categories

Political Science


This study discerns political resistance from everyday resistance and then develops on a distinction between a morally and politically justifiable resistance and the kind that is not. Drawing on different historical periods, it demonstrates why the conceptual clarification and moral justification of political resistance cannot rely upon the categories of non-violence, visibility, and legality alone. This study has five main arguments. First, a genuine political resistance is collective and occurs in public. It is conducted with the cooperation of similar-minded people out in the open, as long as there is room for politics. Therefore, it is not hidden like everyday forms of resistance. Second, political resistance may or may not use violent means of opposition. The use of violence may be justified insofar as it is a response to extreme injustice and opens up the space for politics. The mode of action to be taken is thus contingent upon the political situation instead of moral absolutes. Third, a genuine political resistance aims either at the liberation from oppression, which is a prerequisite for the constitution of political freedom, or at the expansion of political equality. Fourth, the question of liberation or emancipation is essentially ideological because it is related to the question of justice that has to do with the distribution of economic and political resources. Finally, as every political resistance ultimately acts upon the existing conditions of social life and the flux of politics, the participants have to engage in practical-critical activity. Overall, this study argues, the different forms of political resistance require an agenda to set in motion, strategies and tactics developed around moral and political philosophies, and some degree of flexibility to move in accordance with the prospect of resistance.