Dr. Jonathan Pinckney is a senior researcher for USIP’s Program on Nonviolent Action.

He joined USIP after two years as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, where he supervised the Anatomy of Resistance Campaigns Project. Prior to that, he worked as a research fellow at the Sie Cheou-Kang Center for International Security and Diplomacy, where he supervised the Social Conflict Analysis Database and the Nonviolent and Violent Campaigns and Outcomes Data Project, version 3.0.

Dr. Pinckney is a well-known expert on nonviolent action, focusing on the intersection between nonviolent movements, democratization, and peace processes and the use of statistical analysis and big data to better understand nonviolent mobilization. He speaks frequently on the origins, dynamics, and consequences of nonviolent action and has taught undergraduate courses on civil resistance and international relations.

Dr. Pinckney received both a master’s and doctorate from the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies and a bachelor’s from Gordon College. He is the author of “From Dissent to Democracy: The Promise and Perils of Civil Resistance Transitions,” published by Oxford University Press, as well as numerous articles in major media outlets such as Foreign Policy and The Washington Post and top-ranking academic journals such as International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Peace Research, and Conflict Management and Peace Science.

Publications By Jonathan

Motives, Benefits, and Sacred Values: Examining the Psychology of Nonviolent Action and Violent Extremism

Motives, Benefits, and Sacred Values: Examining the Psychology of Nonviolent Action and Violent Extremism

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

By: Jonathan Pinckney, Ph.D.;  Michael Niconchuk;  Sarah Ryan

What motivates one person to engage in acts of violent extremism, while others choose to pursue change through nonviolent action? This report is based on pilot research into the psychological and social dynamics of a nonviolent resistance group—Algeria’s Hirak movement—that employs some of the same measures used to study participation in violent extremist organizations. A deeper understanding of these dynamics, it is hoped, will help practitioners, policymakers, and researchers to identify and support paths away from violent extremism and to strengthen and sustain engagement in nonviolent action.

Type: Peaceworks

Nonviolent ActionViolent Extremism

Precarity and Power: Reflections on Women and Youth in Nonviolent Action

Precarity and Power: Reflections on Women and Youth in Nonviolent Action

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

By: Jonathan Pinckney, Ph.D.;  Miranda Rivers

Examples abound of women and youth on the front lines of recent nonviolent action campaigns—from Alaa Salah leading demonstrators in Sudan in 2019 to the thousands of young people marching against the coup in Myanmar in early 2021. Yet significant social, cultural, and economic barriers can prevent both women and youth from participating in nonviolent action. This report, based in part on firsthand reports from activists in seven diverse countries, sheds light on these barriers and makes concrete recommendations for maximizing the impact of women and youth in nonviolent action.

Type: Peaceworks

Nonviolent Action

Digital Authoritarianism and Nonviolent Action: Challenging the Digital Counterrevolution

Digital Authoritarianism and Nonviolent Action: Challenging the Digital Counterrevolution

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

By: Matthew Cebul;  Jonathan Pinckney, Ph.D.

Nonviolent action campaigns are one of the most common ways citizens seek to peacefully change nonresponsive political systems. Yet recently developed and emergent technologies are transforming the nature of interactions between activists and authoritarian governments. This report examines the increasingly sophisticated set of tools—such as facial recognition and surveillance of social media platforms—authoritarian regimes are using to stifle nonviolent movements, and provides recommendations for how policymakers and activists can develop creative strategies for overcoming digital authoritarianism.

Type: Special Report

Nonviolent Action

Nonviolent Action and Transitions to Democracy: The Impact of Inclusive Dialogue and Negotiation

Nonviolent Action and Transitions to Democracy: The Impact of Inclusive Dialogue and Negotiation

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

By: Véronique Dudouet;  Jonathan Pinckney, Ph.D.

Significant dialogue and negotiation processes have taken place in almost all democratic transitions, but these processes alone do not have a significant impact on future democracy. This report presents statistical analysis of all political transitions after nonviolent action campaigns and case studies of transitions in Egypt, Tunisia, and Ukraine to show the importance of inclusion—and in particular the participation of women—to ensure both successful dialogue and that the outcome of that dialogue is a stable democracy.

Type: Peaceworks

Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue

Four Takeaways on the Intersection of Nonviolent Action and Peace Processes

Four Takeaways on the Intersection of Nonviolent Action and Peace Processes

Thursday, May 13, 2021

By: Jonathan Pinckney, Ph.D.;  Miranda Rivers;  Tabatha Thompson;  Adam Gallagher

How can nonviolent action and peacebuilding work together? And how can they be brought together to promote positive long-term political change? Although mass nonviolent action movements are taking place at an increasingly rapid rate, they are succeeding in achieving their goals less frequently, and where initially peaceful demonstrations have been met by state violence from Myanmar to Colombia, better understanding these questions is crucial.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Nonviolent ActionPeace Processes

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