Difference Between Non-Cooperation and Civil Disobedience

Non-Cooperation vs Civil Disobedience

Though the two terms Non-cooperation and civil obedience appear to be similar in their meanings, there is a number of difference between these two terms. Non-cooperation and Civil disobedience operated as movements in the history, in a number of countries. When examining the history of India, both movements can be identified. However, the implementation of these two criterion bear evidence that there exists observable difference. First it is necessary to define the two terms. Noncooperation is the refusal to cooperate with the government of a country whereas Civil disobedience refers to the refusal to obey certain laws of a country. Despite the fact that the definitions sound similar, the difference lies in noncooperation being rather passive in comparison to civil disobedience that plays an active role. This article attempts to highlight the difference between the two while examining the two terms.

What is Non-Cooperation?

Non-cooperation can be defined as an instance where a number of individuals either refuse or fail to cooperate with the government of a country. In this sense, it can be viewed as a passive opposition. This can be considered as a strategy adopted by a particular group to show their opposition by refusing to engage in civil and political agendas. The goal of this particular action is to fail the government by withdrawing all assistance. For example, if a number of advocates resign at the same time, it creates a disruption to work. Gaining political victory through this is the objective of noncooperation. As a movement, this was visible in India especially through the actions of Mahatma Gandhi during the British reign. This included the resignation of different titles, refusal to pay taxes, and also boycotting of services and goods belonging to foreign countries.

Difference Between Non-Cooperation and Civil Disobedience

Gandhi led non-cooperation movements

What is Civil Disobedience?

Civil obedience, on the other hand, can be defined as the refusal to obey laws of a country through the adoption of nonviolent methods. In most cases, it arises due to moral objections of the people. For instance, if a law that has been passed is considered as immoral by a group of individuals there is a high chance of refusing to obey this rule and engaging in activities such as protests, to display their resistance. This can also be considered passive, in the sense, it does not involve violence, just as in the case of non-cooperation. This also occurred as a movement in a number of countries such as India, America, and Africa. Civil disobedience can be seen in labor union movements where the members engage in protests, with the goal of achieving better-working conditions or to win their rights as employees. In civil disobedience, the group resists obeying a particular law. However, it does not entail the complete rejection of the government or else the political structure in operation.

Non-Cooperation vs Civil Disobedience

Protesting is a part of civil disobedience

What is the difference between Non-Cooperation and Civil Disobedience?

• Non-cooperation is the refusal to cooperate with the government of a country whereas Civil disobedience refers to the refusal to obey certain laws of a country.

• Non-cooperation is passive as it involves withdrawal whereas civil disobedience is active because people display their resistance trough means such as rallies and protests.

• Non-cooperation included resignations and refusal to pay taxes whereas civil disobedience included boycotting, protests, etc.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Gandhi via Wikicommons (Public Domain)
  2. Protest by Bahraini Activist (CC BY-SA 3.0)