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Nonviolence and Covid-19: a force already more powerful?

Civil Society
European Politics
Human Rights
Political Participation
Climate Change
Peace
Roberto Baldoli
University College London
Roberto Baldoli
University College London
Claudio Radaelli
European University Institute

Abstract

We trace and explain the social mechanisms of nonviolence in the context of the behavioural responses to the current pandemic, outlining challenges and opportunities for Europe. At the outset, we illustrate empirical cases of nonviolent action across Europe based on research on academic articles, social media, the blog-sphere, social movements websites, newsletters and newspapers. Then we highlight the mechanisms at three levels: individual self-sufferance aimed to reduce harm to others, e.g. self-isolation, compliance with non-binding norms of precaution; creative mobilization for democracy, human rights, education and personal liberties; and as the emergence of collective norms about the relationship of the Homo Sapiens with the planet. In the final part of the paper we discuss the implications for institutions (particularly the European Union) and governance.