Peaceful Societies

Alternatives  to Violence and War



News and Reviews
Peaceful Societies

October 1, 2015. Ju/’hoansi Confront Climate Change
The Nyae Nyae Development Foundation of Namibia is helping the Ju/’hoansi, formerly a hunting and gathering society, to cope effectively with the realities of global climate change. (Full story)

October 1, 2015. A Stairway to Heaven in India
The Lepchas have a myth that their ancestors tried, and almost succeeded, in building a stairway to heaven. (Full story)

September 24, 2015. Positive Attitudes about the Amish in Wisconsin
Over 1,300 residents of Eau Claire County, Wisconsin, signed an appeal supporting local Amish objections to building code regulations, which they say violate their religious beliefs. (Full story)

September 24, 2015. Improving the Status of Women in Rural Thailand
As far back as 1946, Ruth Benedict argued that the Thai culture of male dominance is based on their religious practices and on their interpretation of Buddhist doctrines (Phillips 1965). (Full story)

September 17, 2015. A Dance that Promotes Zapotec Values
David Bacon considers the Zapotec “Dance of the Feather” to be “one of the world’s most beautiful dances.” (Full story)

September 17, 2015. Concerns for Batek Gender Equality
Although gender equality has long been a hallmark of the Batek people, the status of women in that society may be starting to fray, according to a report published last week. (Full story)

September 10, 2015. Ladakhi Village Electrified
Last month, Paras Loomba led a team of volunteers into Shingo, a remote Ladakhi village, to install a new, solar powered, electrical system for the villagers. (Full story)

September 10, 2015. Fipa Men Boil the Maize
The headline for the news report was arresting: “Rukwa Men Learning to Treat their Partners with Love.” (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.




About This Website | Contact Us