Peaceful Societies

Alternatives  to Violence and War



News and Reviews
Peaceful Societies

April 23, 2015. Hutterite Innovations and Commitments
The Hutterites at the Viking Colony in rural Alberta, 75 miles southeast of Edmonton, constantly look for ways to use their business intuition to develop new enterprises. (Full story)

April 23, 2015. The Popularity of Redshirts [journal article review]
The word “redshirt” has very different meanings in the United States and Rural Thailand. (Full story)

April 16, 2015. Resettlement Plans for the Malapandaram
Nearly 17 months after writing a report about a Malapandaram community in Kerala, Radhakrishnan Kuttoor, a reporter for The Hindu, returned to see how the same community is doing. (Full story)

April 16, 2015. Hard Hats for Amish Workers
The owner of a quarry in west central Pennsylvania has given up trying to overcome U.S. federal bureaucracy in order to protect the beliefs of his Amish employees. (Full story)

April 9, 2015. Nunavimmiut Face the Future
The Nunavimmiut, Inuit from the northern third of Quebec called Nunavik, are a strongly united and determined people, according to a report from Nunatsiaq News last week. (Full story)

April 9, 2015. Searching for Life in the Kalahari
Opaletswe, a young San man, tells Daniel Koehler at New Xade that even though he is poor, “when you dance, you feel like you are very rich.” (Full story)

April 2, 2015.Oil Palm Prosperity
While some Semai emphasize retaining their ties to their natural forests, others accept, and value, forest-destructive practices that will secure for them the benefits of the consumer economy. (Full story)

April 2, 2015. Designs for Energy Efficiency
An unusual architectural design competition was launched last week by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) to create a more sustainable future for the people of Tristan da Cunha. (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.




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