I have noticed some confusion about what a “protest” is or what it means. I figured it might be helpful to try to clear this up for everyone, and give a couple examples. I am a Conflict Analysis and Resolution Major and I recently learned about the different types of protesting in a class, and thought I’d share a page from my notes.
Basically, “protest” is an umbrella term for many different forms of expression of opposition. Typically, this takes form either passively or actively. Passive Action, or Passive Protest, is appealing for change within a system. This can be done in may ways, but it simply means that a message is being conveyed and gains attention, without disturbing a system. Don’t be fooled by the term passive though because many forms require a great deal of action and passive protests still have the ability to become violent. It is just that they are seeking change and appeal, instead of acting on the changes. Direct Action is not seeking an appeal from a system, but defying it. Direct Action seeks to refute a system’s power and act on the changes, instead of appealing for them. Rarely does a protest movement just embody one form of protest. For a movement to be fully effective both types are usually needed but even so movements typically become defined by which ever is used the most. To give some real life examples, The Civil Rights Movement, which is typically considered direct action, used both forms of protest, so did the Vietnam War protests.
Examples of passive protests from the Civil Rights movements would be flyer distribution, or picketers that were non-disruptive. These are both passive because they are appealing for change, but not acting on the changes. Examples of direct action are the boycotts, marches, and demonstrations such as sitting in the front of the bus. These are all direct action because they were ignoring and impeding the current system and carrying out the change that they wishes to see.
For the Vietnam War Protests, some passive protest examples were flyer distribution, passive picketing, song writing, and soap-boxing. While active picketing, marches, sit-ins, demonstrations, and even draft dodging are all examples of direct action that were used. However passive or direct though, all of these are still examples of protest. Hopefully this made the idea of a “protest” and occupy wall street’s methods a little bit clearer.