Peaceful Societies

Alternatives  to Violence and War



News and Reviews
Peaceful Societies

October 30, 2014. Monsters in an Inuit Community
As Halloween approaches, many children shiver at the thought of ghosts, but the kids in one Inuit hamlet have quite valid reasons to be afraid of large, white, child-eating monsters. (Full story)

October 30, 2014. How the Semai Repel Cockroaches [journal article review]
The Semai effectively utilize products from their nearby forests that give them health and economic benefits, and in the process they are able to preserve their traditional way of life. (Full story)

October 23, 2014. Amish Volunteer Firefighters
Last week, a newspaper in Rochester, New York, reported that some Amish men are helping fight fires with a couple of volunteer fire companies in the Finger Lakes region. (Full story)

October 23, 2014. Revitalizing Zapotec Language and Culture [journal article review]
Coyote wanted to eat Opossum but the latter, too wily for his would-be consumer, said he must first eat the juiciest fruits from a nearby cactus. (Full story)

October 16, 2014. Nubian Resettlements May Move Forward
A major demand by Egypt’s Nubian community—to have the option of resettling into their historic homelands along the Nile—moved a step closer to reality last week. (Full story)

October 16, 2014. Tristan Lobsters Accepted by the EU
About 75 percent of the economy of the Tristan Islanders is based on fishing for Tristan lobsters, Jasus tristani, the market for which has just been expanded significantly. (Full story)

October 9, 2014. Electricity in a Ladakhi Village
The Ladakhi people of Sumda Chenmo had never enjoyed electricity in their remote village, located in the Ripchar Valley of the Zanskar Range, in southwestern Ladakh. (Full story)

October 9, 2014. Gathering Non-Timber Forest Products [journal article review]
While involvement by the Kadar in wildlife and forest management has been well publicized, a recent journal article gives details about the value of the forest products they gather. (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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