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date: 17 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article explores the origins and consequences of direct political action as a means for the rural poor to overcome economic destitution. Three forms of rural collective action are discussed: peaceful protest, armed rebellion, and civil war. The article first reviews classic statements and recent findings in the literature on peasant collective action before considering why poor peasants rebel. Drawing on recent studies of peasant protest, armed insurgency, and civil war, it then outlines four lessons that help us rethink dynamics of poor people’s movements. It also assesses the long-term economic and political consequences of peasant collective action and whether violent or nonviolent forms of rural mobilization have an impact on land redistribution and democratization. Finally, it describes conditions under which the poor try to overcome their destitution through direct political action.

Keywords: direct political action, rural poor, collective action, peaceful protest, armed rebellion, civil war, peasants, rural mobilization, land redistribution, democratization

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