Peaceful Societies

Alternatives  to Violence and War



News and Reviews
Peaceful Societies

July 30, 2015. Tristan Has No Crime
An orientation program on the Isle of Man has sharpened the perceptions of Dawn Repetto about better ways to promote tourism for Tristan da Cunha. (Full story)

July 30, 2015. Violence against Inuit Women
A support group has launched a campaign to foster awareness and actions that will help Inuit women who suffer from violence within their families. (Full story)

July 23, 2015. Kerala and its Peaceful Societies Part 1, the Kadar
The Kadar living in the Anapantham Colony had to move to another location, Sasthanpoovam, nearly 10 years ago when their colony was nearly destroyed by landslides. (Full story)

July 23, 2015. Kerala and its Peaceful Societies Part 2, the Malapandaram
The reporter for The Hindu reflected the enthusiasm of the day with his headline, which gushed, “A Day to Rejoice for Tribal Children.” (Full story)

July 16, 2015. Nubians Insulted by Egyptian Racism
The racism that Nubians in Egypt sometimes experience from the Arab majority in their country was dramatized last week in a widely publicized incident involving a popular soccer (football) star. (Full story)

July 16, 2015. Happiness and Peacefulness in Thailand [journal article review]
The opening paragraph in a recent journal article by Piriya Pholphirul about Thailand begins with the amazingly hopeful statement that “‘happiness’ is the ultimate human desire.” (Full story)

July 9, 2015. Adventures in Botswana
Daniel Koehler has published three more installments in his blog about his filming adventures among the G/wi and G//ana San people of Botswana. (Full story)

July 9, 2015. Amish Singing
The Nicholas Stoltzfus Homestead in Wyomissing, a suburb of the city of Reading, Pennsylvania, hosted an Amish sing on Tuesday evening last week. (Full story)


For earlier articles, please visit the listing of older stories on the News and Reviews page.




Peaceful societies are contemporary groups of people who effectively foster interpersonal harmony and who rarely permit violence or warfare to interfere with their lives. This website serves to introduce these societies to students, peace activists, scholars and citizens who are interested in the conditions that promote peacefulness. It includes information on the beliefs of these peoples, the ways they maintain their nonviolence, and the factors that challenge their lifestyles.

Zapotec boyLISTS: A list of peaceful societies is never completely finished or accurate. However, social scientists have convincingly described at least 25 societies around the world in which there is very little internal violence or external warfare. Generalizations are difficult to make accurately, except that most of the time these peaceful societies successfully promote harmony, gentleness, and kindness toward others as much as they devalue conflict, aggressiveness, and violence.

DISCLAIMER: While scholars have clearly identified a small number of societies in which people rarely act aggressively, it must be emphasized that no stamp of approval is intended for the societies included in this website. None of them are utopias. They share many problems with the rest of humanity. That said, however, most of the time they interact in a highly pro-social manner and they successfully avoid both violence within their own societies and warfare with other peoples.

OTHER "PEACEFUL" SOCIETIES: Popular writers and casual observers have also described many other societies as “peaceful,” but often in a more general or romantic sense. This website focuses, instead, on societies where there is significant scholarly literature to support the claims of peacefulness, and where the evidence provided by those scholars appears to be quite convincing.

COMPARISONS: Part of the fascination of this scholarly literature is the way readers can compare the extent of peacefulness and violence in these societies. Their differing ways of developing social, psychological, ethical and religious structures that foster peacefulness should inspire—and challenge—anyone interested in the processes of peace building. This literature suggests several questions:

APPROACHES TO PEACEFULNESS: Most of the nonviolent peoples have a wide range of strategies for promoting interpersonal harmony, building mutual respect, and fostering toleration for individual differences. Many of them are masters at devaluing conflicts, minimizing and resolving them when they do occur, and preventing them from developing into violence. Many of these peaceful societies also devalue competition, self-focus, and other ego-centered social behaviors that they feel might lead to violence.

LITERATURE: While the literature about these societies is small in contrast to the vast number of works about violence and war, there are some notable, highly readable books about peaceful societies and some useful websites that describe a few of them. Most of the best literature, however, is available in books, journal articles, and essays contained in published volumes. A small number of the best journal articles and essays from books are included in the Archive of Articles on Peaceful Societies of this website. Three different encyclopedia articles describe peaceful societies and the literature about them (Dentan 2002; Fry 1999; Sponsel 1996).

ADDITIONS: Additions to the website, as well as news about the peaceful societies, are noted on the News and Reviews page.

Photo: Seven year old Zapotec boy eating a tortilla in the fields of Oaxaca, Mexico, near the village of La Paz. D. P. Fry photo collection.




About This Website | Contact Us