'Fill the jails': identity, structure and method in the Committee of 100, 1960 – 1968

Carroll, Samantha Jane (2011) 'Fill the jails': identity, structure and method in the Committee of 100, 1960 – 1968. Doctoral thesis (DPhil), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

The Committee of 100 (C100) (1960 – 68) were a British anti-nuclear protest group
who campaigned for mass non-violent direct action (NVDA) in an effort to force the
government to revise its defence policy. The formation of C100 created tensions with
the already-established Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), whose leaders
objected to C100's commitment to civil disobedience. The two anti-nuclear campaigns
had some membership overlap but always remained separate. Until now, any
investigation of C100 has been incorporated within wider studies of CND or has been
quantitative in method. This thesis therefore addresses a historical gap by employing a
life history approach to examine C100 as a distinct group. Drawing upon oral history
interviews with twenty-four C100 members the resulting analysis reveals new aspects of
C100's innovative structure and method, and identifies the particular nature of those
who joined the campaign.
A new image of first wave anti-nuclear activists emerges when focusing on C100
protestors. The respondents reveal motivations for campaign engagement that contrast
with those of earlier representations of CND supporters. They were inspired by a
common interest in global civil rights concerning human health and survival and a need
to actively challenge rather than merely petition the authorities. Significantly, many
C100 members came from left-wing, progressive or anarchist backgrounds. They were
an erudite group with regard for knowledge, despite many putting conventional
education on hold to fully engage in the campaign.
This thesis examines C100's libertarian nature, and the extent to which its membership
managed to be anti-hierarchical in structure, ethos and policy. It explores tensions
within C100 concerning limits and definitions of NVDA that changed over time and
came to radicalise the campaign. A biographical approach also reveals significant
factors around C100 prison experience concerning issues of class and gender. This
thesis serves to situate C100 for the first time in its own right on the socio-political map,
both historically and globally.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > Centre for Community Engagement
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology > HM0831 Social change
J Political Science > JZ International relations > JZ5511.2 Promotion of peace. Peaceful change
J Political Science > JZ International relations > JZ6360 Non military coercion
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 17 May 2011 06:04
Last Modified: 14 Aug 2015 13:17
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/6910

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