The Labor of diffusion

the peace pledge union and the adaptation of the Gandhian repertoire

Sean Scalmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The history of the Peace Pledge Union of Britain illuminates the process of social movement repertoire diffusion. In the late 1950s and 1960s British pacifists successfully used nonviolent direct action, but this was based upon a long-term engagement with Gandhism. Systematic coding of movement literature suggests that the translation of Gandhian methods involved more than twenty years of intellectual study and debate. Rival versions of Gandhian repertoire were constructed and defended. These were embedded in practical, sometimes competing projects within the pacifist movement, and were the subject of intense argument and conflict. the relevance of Gandhism was established through complex framing processes, multiple discourses, and increasing practical experimentation. This article offers methodological and conceptual tools for the study of diffusion. A wider argument for the importance of the reception as will as performance of contention is offered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-286
Number of pages18
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002

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