Peaceful Societies

Alternatives  to Violence and War



News and Reviews
Peaceful Societies

November 19, 2015. LGBTI Families in Rural Thailand
Although Thailand basically tolerates same-sex couples, the more deeply conservative Rural Thai in the northeastern region of the country consider lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and intersexed people to be abnormal. (Full story)

November 19, 2015. Comparing Kauai and Ifaluk
Kauai, the fourth largest of the Hawaiian Islands, has over 100 times as many people as Ifaluk Island in Micronesia, it is 1000 times larger, and it is vastly more diverse and modern. (Full story)

November 12, 2015. The Amish Project Performed Once Again
How could the Amish immediately forgive a man who had just gunned down ten of their girls in a local schoolroom, murdering five and then killing himself? (Full story)

November 12, 2015. Hallucinogens for the Piaroa
Gregori, a grandson of the elderly shaman José Antonio Bolívar, tells the reporter, in the words of Google’s translation, “yopo is our diamond and we are here to share the highlights.” (Full story)

November 5, 2015. Hallucinogens for the Zapotec
The Zapotec in the mountain village of San Jose del Pacifico, in southern Oaxaca, resent the fact that their local hallucinogenic mushrooms are attracting backpackers who are coming just for the drug experiences. (Full story)

November 5, 2015. Canadian Election Politics and the Hutterites
In the run-up to their hard-fought general election, won by Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party on October 19, Canadians often expressed pride in their toleration for religious and cultural differences. (Full story)

October 29, 2015. The Study of Amish Women
Karen Johnson-Weiner, a prominent scholar from New York State, is studying the lives of Amish women during a semester-long fellowship at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. (Full story)

October 29, 2015. Black Carbon and Black Anger: Changing Conditions in Ladakh [book review]
The old Ladakhi men are sitting in a line on one side of the community hall arranged by descending age, with the eldest in the corner. (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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