Walking away with thoreau: The pleasures and risks of exit

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4 Scopus citations


Much of the political theory literature on Thoreau is divided, with one camp focusing on resistance and civil disobedience, while the second concentrates on withdrawal. This bifurcation is not borne out in Thoreau’s texts, and it can lead to a mischaracterization of Thoreau as an essentially instrumental thinker and an idiosyncratic political actor. In this article I argue against this bifurcation of withdrawal and resistance, maintaining that Thoreau’s exit was simultaneously a mode of resistance. His “resistant exit” has double political significance because it was instrumental and expressive. In addition to the change that it can produce in the individual, Thoreau’s resistant exit is consequential because the action itself symbolizes opposition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)446-466
Number of pages21
JournalAmerican Political Thought
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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