Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (History) Honours


School of Communications and Arts


Education and Arts

First Advisor

Dr David Robinson


This thesis explores impediments to regime change using the strategy of nonviolent action, through an integrated examination of consensual power theory as articulated by Gene Sharp and Antonio Gramsci, and by incorporating James Scott’s theory that observable consent in the public discourse can belie a private realm of resistance to a system of domination. Using the context of the 2011 Libyan uprising, this thesis analyses the reality of consensual power in Libya to explain what factors precluded nonviolent action succeeding in the 2011 revolution.

Critically evaluating the theories, this study examines a wide range of information about the historical, political, economic and social power structures of Libya and the significance of these factors in the 2011 Libyan revolution. By clearly elucidating the internal dynamics of the Libyan system, this thesis argues that domination and not consent served as the primary source of political power for Qadhafi’s revolutionary regime and thus Sharp’s strategy of withdrawing consent does not fit the reality of Libya. Additionally, consent must be understood as a vastly more complex phenomenon if nonviolent strategy is to be successful in the future.


Thesis Location