Types of protests

From Activist Handbook

This page is part of the chapter on tactics.

This page has an elaborate list on the various forms of protest. Also check out the general page on protests (how to organise, local contexts) or other forms of action tactics.


  • A (large) group of people not doing business with a person or a business.
  • It’s effective because it attracts negative attention to the particular business and threatens it, forcing it to change its policies.
  • More information on organising a boycott here.

Protest camps

Civil disobedience[1]

  • Also called passive resistance.
  • A refusal to obey the demands or commands of a government or occupying power, without resorting to violence or active measures of opposition.
  • It is a symbolic or ritualistic violation of the law rather than a rejection of the system as a whole.
  • It is because acts associated with civil disobedience are considered crimes, however, and known by actor and public alike to be punishable, that such acts serve as a protest. By submitting to punishment, the civil disobedient hopes to set a moral example that will provoke the majority or the government into effecting meaningful political, social, or economic change.
  • Under the imperative of setting a moral example, leaders of civil disobedience insist that the illegal actions be nonviolent.
  • Good examples of civil disobedience here.

Culture jamming[2]

  • A tactic used by many anti-consumerist social movements to disrupt or subvert media culture and its mainstream cultural institutions, including corporate advertising. It attempts to "expose the methods of domination" of a mass society to foster progressive change.
  • Tactics include:
    • re-figuring logos;
    • fashion statements;
    • product images as a means to challenge the idea of "what's cool";
    • using mass media to produce ironic or satirical commentary about itself, commonly using the original medium's communication method.
  • A short guide here.


  • The most common way of protesting, usually going from one point to another or just standing in an important (to the problem at hand) place with posters and slogans.
  • A guide on organising a good protest (demonstration) is here.

Direct action[3]

  • A form of protesting that is non political and doesn’t rely on mediation.
  • Participants use their (economic or physical) power to directly reach their goals.
  • Tactics can be:
    • revealing an existing problem;
    • using physical violence;
    • highlighting an alternative;
    • demonstrating a possible solution;
    • non violent or violent activities that are deemed offensive by the participants;
    • sit-ins;
    • strikes;
    • workplace occupation;
    • street blockades;
    • political violence;
    • assaults;
    • sabotage;
    • property destruction.

Hunger strikes[4]

  • Participants fast as an act of political protest or to provoke guilt in others, with the objective to achieve a specific goal.
  • Most hunger strikers take liquids but not solid food.
  • If an entity (for example, the state) is able to obtain custody of the striker, they may force - feed the activist, ending the strike.

Protest marches

  • Similar as demonstrations but include moving from a starting point to a destination.
  • Known examples include climate march and women’s march.
  • Guides on organising a march here - 1 and 2.


  • A strategy often used by social movements and other forms of collective social action in order to take and hold public and symbolic spaces, buildings, critical infrastructure such as:
    • entrances to train stations;
    • shopping centers;
    • university buildings;
    • squares;
    • parks.
  • Opposed to a military occupation which attempts to subdue a conquered country, a protest occupation is a means to resist the status quo and advocate a change in public policy.
  • Unlike other forms of protest like demonstrations, marches and rallies, occupation is defined by an extended temporality and is usually located in specific places.
  • In many cases local governments declare occupations illegal because protesters seek to control space over a prolonged time. Thus occupations are often in conflict with political authorities and forces of established order, especially the police.
  • These confrontations in particular attract media attention.
  • Occupation, as a means of achieving change, emerged from worker struggles that sought everything from higher wages to the abolition of capitalism.
  • Often called a sit-down strike, it is a form of civil disobedience in which an organized group of workers, usually employed at a factory or other centralized location, take possession of the workplace by "sitting down" at their stations, effectively preventing their employers from replacing them with strikebreakers or, in some cases, moving production to other locations.


  • Usually a mass refusal by employees to work.
  • Can also be executed by students refusing to attend school or university (for example, climate strikes).
  • See also - hunger strike.
  • A guide on executing a strike can be found here.