The Nonviolence Sociogram
Rate the contents of this page:
- To help participants identify their beliefs about nonviolence
- To generate discussion on issues of nonviolence
- At least 20 minutes
- Six or more
- A handout prepared in advance by the facilitator with a list of statements (see example below).
I) Before the workshop, prepare a list of statements about issues of nonviolence. These should enable people to position themselves and express their beliefs about their statements.
Example: Your list of statements may go like this:
- Hunting is a sport.
- Eating meat.
- One of Gandhi’s techniques to throw out the British was to boycott British cloth. It put a lot of textile workers out of the work, because the cloth wasn’t being sold and they were unemployed and suffering. Was this boycott violent or nonviolent?
- Vietnamese Buddhist monks burned themselves to death during the Vietnam War as a sign of protest against the war.
- When struggling against a harsh dictator, nonviolent means are insufficient.
- When an oppressor is violent, responsibility for the violence of the oppressed lies with the oppressor.
- It’s OK to loot food stores when people are starving.
- Nonviolent struggle shouldn’t cause destruction of property.
- You can’t ask people not to react to being beaten. Reaction to violence and self-defence are basic human instincts necessary for survival.
- (Your list can continue with statements appropriate for the group.)
II) Shift chairs and tables so that participants have plenty of space to move around.
III) Position yourself in the centre of the room. Explain that you’re going to read a statement and participants will place themselves around the room based on their personal feelings about that statement. In practice, the closer to you they get, the more they share and support the statement. They can further illustrate their view using their bodies. Demonstrate, to make sure everyone understands the activity.
Example: You read out the statement “hunting is a sport”. Two participants place themselves very close in front of you, standing. One participant is to your far right, on her knees. Three participants are as close as possible behind you, lying on the floor. Other participants have positioned themselves around the room, some standing, crouching, lying, some facing you, some not, etc.
IV) When all participants have chosen their position, walk round the room and interview them. You may like to ask questions such as, “Why did you place yourself here?” or “What are you trying to say?”
V) Repeat the procedure with the other statements.
You can choose to develop discussions with participants when interviewing them. Just take care of the energy flow: depending on the situation it may be better to keep the activity short, without exploring each participant’s beliefs in depth.
Adapted from the original idea by Daniel Hunter, Training for Change.