Direct action occurs when a group of people take an action which is intended to reveal an existing problem, highlight an alternative, or demonstrate a possible solution to a social issue. This can include nonviolent and less often violent activities which target persons, groups, or property deemed offensive to the direct action participants. Examples of direct action can include strikes, workplace occupations, political violence, nonviolent resistance, sabotage, property destruction, blockades, etc. By contrast, electoral politics, diplomacy, negotiation, and arbitration are not usually described as direct action, as they are politically mediated. Non-violent actions are sometimes a form of civil disobedience, and may involve a degree of intentional law-breaking where persons place themselves in arrestable situations in order to make a political statement but other actions (such as strikes) may not violate criminal law. The aim is to either obstruct another political agent or political organization from performing some practice to which the activists object; or to solve perceived problems which traditional societal institutions (governments, powerful churches or establishment trade unions) are not addressing to the satisfaction of the direct action participants.
In general, direct action is often used by those seeking social change, and non violent direct action in particular has historically been a regular feature of the tactics employed by social change movements.
Famous quotes containing the words direct and/or action:
“You will find that reason, which always ought to direct mankind, seldom does; but that passions and weaknesses commonly usurp its seat, and rule in its stead.”
—Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl Chesterfield (16941773)
“In 1845 he built himself a small framed house on the shores of Walden Pond, and lived there two years alone, a life of labor and study. This action was quite native and fit for him. No one who knew him would tax him with affectation. He was more unlike his neighbors in his thought than in his action. As soon as he had exhausted himself that advantages of his solitude, he abandoned it.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882)