Affinity groups: an affinity group is a small group of people (usually no more than 15) who come together to do actions together. Sometimes they are formed for a particular action, sometimes they are more permanent groups of people who share a vision and approach, and attend actions together. Affinity groups also form the basis for grassroots' decision-making at actions by sending a speaker to a speakers' council deciding on what steps to take in an action (see 'affinity groups').

Bust card: pocket sized guideline with recommendations on what to do if stopped by the police during an action. Can also include an individual's rights on arrest, and helpful phone numbers, like legal support and solicitors (see 'legal support').

Campaign: organised social action designed to bring about a specific change. Campaigns are run by a group of people with a common understanding and shared vision, and are made up of a series of actions and activities over a specific time frame, with a particular goal and a strategy how to achieve that goal (see 'planning nonviolent campaigns').

Civil disobedience: the active refusal to comply with specific laws that are considered unjust, or breaking laws to achieve objectives considered crucial enough that breaking the law is justified (for example breaking a law on registering demonstrations in a campaign).

Civil resistance: “Collective action for political or social ends without any systematic recourse to violence... civil resistance can cover a spectrum from nonviolent resistance - where a movement makes a positive commitment to pursue a strategy of nonviolent action - to 'unarmed resistance' which is less a policy than a description, that the resisters are not using lethal weapons.” (As defined in A guide to civil resistance: a bibliography of people power and protest, by Carter, Clark and Randle.)

Consensus decision-making: A process that aims to take everyone's concerns into consideration, and reach a decision that has the active consent of all the participants. It is based on listening, respect, and participation by everyone (see 'consensus decision-making').

Constructive programme: the process of building a new society in the shell of the old. As Robert Burrowes describes it; ' for the individual, constructive programme meant increased power-from-within through the development of personal identity, self-reliance, and fearlessness. For the community, it meant the creation of a new set of political, social, and economic relations.' (See 'constructive programme'.)

Debriefing: A process after an action or training, where participants tell each other what they experienced, felt and learned. Debriefing takes into account what happened and how individuals responded (see 'action evaluation').

Direct action: Any action where individuals or groups act to bring about change themselves, rather than asking or expecting others to act on their behalf. Can be disruptive (like blockading a weapons factory) or constructive (like guerilla gardening). (See 'forms of nonviolent action'.)

Empowerment: Supporting people to have more control over their own lives. Empowerment means gaining skills, increasing self confidence, and developing self-reliance. Nonviolence training can be an excellent source of empowerment (see 'Nonviolence and power').

Movement (or 'social movement'): a cross section of groups and campaigns that associate under a broad banner, such as the environmental movement or the anti-globalisation movement. Movement's can last for decades, are often international, with many groups acting under a banner, and can be disputed or hard to define.

Nonviolent action: a form of political action based on the decision not to physically harm or destroy human life. It is an alternative to both passive submission and violence, it includes both actions “against” something and constructive actions 'for' an alternative, both legal and illegal (see 'civil disobedience').

Nonviolent intervention: Gene Sharp defines this as actions that 'pose an immediate and direct challenge' (see 'forms of nonviolent action'). Over the last 20 years, 'nonviolent intervention' has also been used to refer to activities that are undertaken either in solidarity with like-minded groups, or as a non-partisan external party that tries to influence a conflict which the intervening party is otherwise not directly involved in, usually abroad.

Nonviolent resistance: a struggle, conducted nonviolently and largely by non-cooperation, in reaction to an act, policy, or government a person or group disapproves of. The broader terms 'nonviolent action' and 'nonviolent struggle' are preferred to refer to the overall nonviolent technique of action and to action in which a nonviolent group also takes the initiative or intervenes, as in a sit-in. Recently, the term has also been used to describe unarmed uprisings.

Nonviolent struggle: a synonym for 'nonviolent action'. This term may be used also to indicate that the nonviolent action in a conflict is particularly purposeful or aggressive. 'Nonviolent struggle' is especially useful to describe nonviolent action against determined and resourceful opponents who use repressive measures and countermeasures.

People Power: the powerful capacity of a mobilised population and its institutions using nonviolent forms of struggle to make social change. The term was used during the 1986 Philippine unarmed uprising against President Marcos (see 'People Power').

Popular education: adult education which aims to develop critical consciousness; students are empowered, by learning about the context they live in and the changes they could make to improve their condition (see 'popular education').

Power: the ability to have an impact on the world. Power may takes different forms:

  • Power-with: finding common ground among different people and building collective strength.

  • Power-to: an enabling power, derived from an inner conviction, acquired knowledge, or a particular skill.

  • Power-over: the power of dominance in which the will of one person or group prevails. (see 'power')

Strategy and tactic: A strategy is a long term plan which aims to achieve certain objectives (like a campaign goal). A tactic is a specific action – like an event, activity or nonviolent direct action – which contributes to the implementation of the strategy. (For more on strategy, see 'why things don't just happen'. A tactic star can be a useful guide to developing effective tactics.)

Violence: “...the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, which either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation.” From World Health Organisation, World report on violence and health, 2002. (see 'violence')