Peaceful Societies

Alternatives  to Violence and War



News and Reviews
Peaceful Societies

July 17, 2014. Rural Thai Children Threatened by Absence of Parents
Millions of Rural Thai children are being raised by their grandparents, a social situation that seems to be producing serious problems for the youngsters, such as increased levels of aggression toward their peers. (Full story)

July 17, 2014. Official Concern for Birhor Wanes
Concern in India for the Birhor jumped dramatically six years ago, though sympathy for this peaceful society has apparently waned as memories of a tragedy in October 2008 grow dim. (Full story)

July 10, 2014. Police Remove Yanadi before Modi Visit
The new Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, visited his nation’s space facility in Andhra Pradesh on Monday last week, June 30th, to watch the launch of a rocket that put five satellites into orbit. (Full story)

July 10, 2014. Children Learn to Be Peaceful the Batek Way [anthology chapter review]
The central, organizing spirit of the highly peaceful Batek society, at least in the mid-1970s, was a moral commitment to sharing any and all foods with everyone else who happened to be in camp. (Full story)

July 3, 2014. Amish Volunteerism
Storms in New Market, Alabama, did about $100,000 of damage to the farm of Susan Ayers-Kelley early in June, but a large Amish crew from nearby Tennessee helped clean up her property. (Full story)

July 3, 2014. Birthday Wishes for Glenn Paige
June 28th marked both the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, an event which triggered World War One, and the 85th birthday of Glenn Paige, who began a movement promoting nonkilling. (Full story)

June 26, 2014. Atlas of Inuit Trails
An online atlas of eastern Canadian Arctic trails, published two weeks ago, offers new perceptions about Inuit culture, according to the three authors responsible for the project. (Full story)

June 26, 2014. The Challenges of Lepcha Identity [journal article review]
A brief journal article published last year describes the ways the Lepchas have attempted to maintain their traditions despite outside domination and internal religious divisions, issues they are beginning to overcome. (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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