AskDefine | Define disobedience

Dictionary Definition



1 the failure to obey [syn: noncompliance] [ant: conformity, obedience]
2 the trait of being unwilling to obey [ant: obedience]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Refusal to obey.
    the disobedient child



refusal to obey

Derived terms

Extensive Definition

Civil disobedience is the active refusal to obey certain laws, demands and commands of a government, or of an occupying power, without resorting to physical violence. It is one of the primary tactics of nonviolent resistance. In its most nonviolent form (known as ahimsa or satyagraha) it could be said that it is compassion in the form of respectful disagreement.
Civil disobedience is one of the many ways people have rebelled against unfair laws. It has been used in many well-documented nonviolent resistance movements in India (Gandhi's social welfare campaigns and campaigns for independence from the British Empire), in South Africa in the fight against apartheid, in the American Civil Rights Movement, and in peace movements worldwide. One of its earliest massive implementations was by Egyptians against the British occupation in the nonviolent 1919 Revolution.
The American author Henry David Thoreau pioneered the modern theory behind this practice in his 1849 essay Civil Disobedience, originally titled "Resistance to Civil Government". The driving idea behind the essay was that of self-reliance, and how one is in morally good standing as long as one can "get off another man's back"; so one doesn't have to physically fight the government, but one must not support it or have it support one (if one is against it). This essay has had a wide influence on many later practitioners of civil disobedience. In the essay, Thoreau explained his reasons for having refused to pay taxes as an act of protest against slavery and against the Mexican-American War.

Early uses of the term

Thoreau did not coin the term "civil disobedience," nor did he ever use it. However, after his landmark 1848 lectures were published in 1849, the term "civil disobedience" began to appear in numerous sermons and lectures relating to slavery in the United States. Early examples of these include:
  • The Gospel Applied to the Fugitive Slave Law [1850]: A Sermon, by Oliver Stearns (1851);
  • "The Higher Law," in Its Application to the Fugitive Slave Bill:... by John Newell and John Chase Lord (1851);
  • The Limits of Civil Disobedience: A Sermon..., by Nathaniel Hall (1851);
  • The Duty and Limitations of Civil Disobedience: A Discourse, by Samuel Colcord Bartlett (1853).
Thus, by the time Thoreau's lectures were first published under the title "Civil Disobedience," in 1866, four years after his death, the term had achieved fairly widespread usage.

Theories and techniques

External links

disobedience in Asturian: Desobediencia Civil
disobedience in Bulgarian: Гражданско неподчинение
disobedience in Danish: Civil ulydighed
disobedience in German: Ziviler Ungehorsam
disobedience in Spanish: Desobediencia civil
disobedience in Esperanto: Civila malobeo
disobedience in Persian: نافرمانی مدنی
disobedience in French: Désobéissance civile
disobedience in Galician: Desobediencia civil
disobedience in Icelandic: Borgaraleg óhlýðni
disobedience in Italian: Disobbedienza civile
disobedience in Hebrew: מרי אזרחי
disobedience in Lithuanian: Pilietinis nepaklusnumas
disobedience in Dutch: Burgerlijke ongehoorzaamheid
disobedience in Japanese: 市民的不服従
disobedience in Norwegian: Sivil ulydighet
disobedience in Polish: Obywatelskie nieposłuszeństwo
disobedience in Portuguese: Desobediência civil
disobedience in Russian: Гражданское неповиновение
disobedience in Slovak: Občianska neposlušnosť
disobedience in Serbian: Грађанска непослушност
disobedience in Finnish: Kansalaistottelemattomuus
disobedience in Chinese: 公民的不服从

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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