Sociology Revolutions
by
Jean-Pierre Reed
  • LAST MODIFIED: 15 January 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0115

Introduction

Social revolutions are typically conceived as transformative historical events that fundamentally change the social structures of society. Their outcomes, as such, are usually associated with the transition to modernity, the rise of capitalism, and the emergence of democracy. It is their transformative effect, despite similarities, that sets them apart from rebellions, revolts, political revolutions, and other types of social movements, making them rare events in history. Compared to political revolutions, which are typically orchestrated from above, social revolutions are mass based. Their root causes are structural in nature, and the processes associated with their mass mobilization typically involve cultural, psychological, and political factors. The systematic social scientific study of revolutions may be traced back to the 19th century. These early works accounted for the structural causes and social forces behind them. Some project a concern with the deleterious effects of revolutionary dynamics. In the context of 20th-century history, the events that followed the Russian Revolution spurred academic interest on this complex sociopolitical phenomenon. The first generation of scholarship on revolution may be identified as the “Natural History School.” Scholars writing in this vein in the 1930s identified common historical patterns through which the American, English, French, and Russian Revolutions unfolded. In this perspective, revolutions emerge as a “natural” historical outcome of old regime practices, and their outbreaks follow a sequence of historical events that culminate in the establishment of a new regime. Second-generation theorists writing in the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s focused on psychological factors, in particular expectation and frustration mechanisms. Scholars belonging to this generation also paid attention to the effects of institutional imbalance (or systemic pathology) on the potential for revolution. Third-generation scholars, primarily writing in the 1970s and 1980s, developed structural explanations of revolution, claiming that the key to making sense of the causes of revolution requires the student of revolution to consider the nature of “state breakdown” and the revolutionary potential of lower classes. Scholars belonging to this generation also paid attention to the political processes in the development of revolution. Fourth-generation scholars aimed to highlight agency in their analyses, although not at the expense of structural explanations. These scholars, writing since the 1990s, have more concretely examined the role played by culture and ideology, the structural features of gender and race, and increasingly the emotional and storytelling dimensions of revolutionary processes. Since this last generation of scholars’ focus on cultural and structural factors, more recent work has increasingly paid attention to the connections between globalization and revolution.

Introductory Texts

Unlike the broader sub-discipline of social movement studies, the sociology of revolutions does not offer many introductory texts. However, several volumes do serve this function. Among these, the works of Castro 2006, Defronzo 2011, Foran 1997, Goldstone 2003, Parker 1999, Richards 2004, Skocpol 1994, and Skocpol 1998 qualify as broad but comprehensive introductions covering various concepts and historical cases of revolution.

  • Castro, Daniel, ed. 2006. Revolution and revolutionaries: Guerrilla movements in Latin America. Lanham, MD: Scholarly Resources.

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    This is a collection of twenty-one essays covering the history of revolutionary struggles in Latin America. The collection includes the work of revolutionaries, e.g., Che Guevara (Cuba), Sergio Ramirez (Nicaragua), and Camilo Torres (Columbia), and area specialists.

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  • Defronzo, James. 2011. Revolutions and revolutionary movements. Boulder, CO: Westview.

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    Covering seven cases of 20th-century revolutions, the author examines these from the perspective of Marxist, modernization, structural, and system theories of revolution. He makes a case for the significance of ideological motivation and a permissive world context in the evaluation of these cases.

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  • Foran, John, ed. 1997. Theorizing revolutions. London: Routledge.

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    Edited by a prominent scholar of revolutions, this anthology explores both the structural and cultural dimensions of revolution.

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  • Goldstone, Jack A., ed. 2003. Revolutions: Theoretical, comparative and historical studies. Belmont, CA: Thompson Learning.

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    Edited by Jack Goldstone, a preeminent scholar of revolutions, this volume is most likely the best introduction to the study of revolutions for both graduates and undergraduates. It exposes the reader to the classical works of Karl Marx and Max Weber, covers major conceptual issues and theories of revolution, and evaluates various historical cases associated with different kinds of revolution.

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  • Parker, Noel. 1999. Revolutions and history: An essay in interpretation. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.

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    A concise, lucid, and authoritative introduction to the study of revolutions, this volume examines the historical impact of ideas of revolution on modernity as well as the impact of modernity on ideas of revolution.

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  • Richards, Michael D. 2004. Revolutions in world history. New York: Routledge.

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    The role of revolutions in world history is examined in this volume. The author covers five cases: The British, Iranian, Mexican, Russian, and Vietnamese Revolutions.

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  • Skocpol, Theda, ed. 1994. Social revolutions in the modern world. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139173834Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In this collection of essays, the world-systemic, ideological and cultural, and class dimensions of modern and Third World revolutions are examined.

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  • Skocpol, Theda, ed. 1998. Democracy, revolution, and history. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.

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    Inspired by Barrington Moore’s Social Origins of Democracy and Dictatorship, this anthology of essays evaluates the political and economic origins of democracy, the nature of revolutionary identities, and the relationship geopolitical structures have on (the future of) revolutions.

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Research Methods

Most of the research on revolutions falls in the comparative historical, social history, or historical sociology camps. The study or research of revolution, for the most part, involves historical methods, or how to study historical processes. Although most historical methods texts do not address revolutions specifically, they are in one way or another subject to incorporation because the majority of these texts address the dynamics of social change and social transformation. Abrams 1983, Lachmann 2013, Mahoney and Rueschemeyer 2003, and Skocpol 1984 qualify as significant methodological contributions to the study of historical processes, including revolutions.

  • Abrams, Philip. 1983. Historical sociology. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.

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    In this volume, the author makes a case for the significance of theoretically (as in sociologically) informed historical interpretation. Rebellions, revolutions, and riots are scrutinized to illustrate the significance of theory use for historiography.

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  • Lachmann, Richard. 2013. What is historical sociology? Malden, MA: Polity Press.

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    This is an accessible volume that covers the basics of historical methods. One chapter specifically covers the topic of revolution.

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  • Mahoney, James, and Dietrich Rueschemeyer, eds. 2003. Comparative historical analysis in the social sciences. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511803963Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A collection of twelve essays by prominent historians, this volume covers the strengths, advantages, and promise of historical sociology for the social sciences. The topic of revolution is directly addressed in one chapter. Several other chapters address issues of agency, structure, and change that can be applied to the study of revolutions.

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  • Skocpol, Theda, ed. 1984. Vision and method in historical sociology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511621567Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A collection of eleven essays primarily covering the works of prominent social historians, including Barrington Moore, Richard Bendix, E. P. Thompson, and Charles Tilly. The collection reveals a role for the history-making capacity of people, and it examines the structural, political, and social features of historical transformation.

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Journals

As a topic, revolutions are covered by both specialized and general-interest sociology journals. Among Specialized Journals, one may count Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change, World Politics, and Politics and Society as useful resources. Among General-Interest Sociology Journals, Theory and Society and Sociological Theory are reliable sources of scholarship on revolution, especially at the theoretical level.

Specialized Journals

Specialized journals focusing on politics advance our understanding of political processes. They provide readers with readymade explanations of political events, political conditions, and political practices.

General-Interest Sociology Journals

Although general-interest sociology journals do not typically focus on politics, political events provide an opportunity to expand social movement and/or revolution theorizing.

On the Concept of Revolution

Our typical conception of revolution is that it is a transformative sociopolitical event. It is from Hegel, via Marx, that we inherit our notion of revolution as transformative, given how the idea of rational progress informed the study of social transformation, as described by Taylor 1984. Prior to this conception, “revolution” was chiefly understood to be the renovation or restoration of the social order, as described by Arendt 1963. Subsequent to the French Revolution, revolution was increasingly conceived of as a destructive social force, as described by Burke 1987 and Levin 2014.

  • Arendt, Hanna. 1963. On revolution. New York: Viking.

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    This volume of political philosophy explores the roots of the concept of revolution as well as the social and political ramifications associated with it by focusing on the American and French cases. It represents a contemporary version of reactionary conservatism.

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  • Burke, Edmund. 1987. Reflections on the revolution in France. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus.

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    Writing on the heels of the French Revolution, reactionary conservative Edmund Burke calls attention to the destructive potential of revolution. This book represents the most emphatically anti-revolution statement. In it Burke proclaims that revolutions are an affront to law and order, tradition and custom, and the very nature of humanity.

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  • Levin, Yuval. 2014. The great debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the birth of right and left. New York: Polity Press.

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    In this history of political thought, Levin provides an account of the progressive and reactionary ideas associated with the French Revolution by examining the political philosophies of Thomas Paine and Edmund Burke. Paine saw revolutions as a source of progress. Burke saw revolution as a destructive force.

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  • Taylor, Stan. 1984. Social science and revolutions. London: Macmillan.

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    In addition to a solid evaluation of economic, political, and social scientific theories of revolution, the etymology of the concept of revolution is also explored in this volume.

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Early Works of Revolution

The works of Karl Marx and Alexis de Tocqueville are significant first attempts at theorizing revolutions in the modern context. Both underscore the transformative and progressive impact of revolutions. Marx provides us with structural and political explanations of revolutions in class systems, paying considerable theoretical attention to industrial societies. For Marx a class system based on capitalism is inherently self-destructive in a dual sense. In one sense, capitalism’s own “laws of motion” undermine the very conditions under which it reproduces itself. In another sense, capitalism creates its own gravediggers, class actors with reason and the potential to challenge capitalism’s hold on society. The first sense addresses the structural nature of revolution (or social transformation) at the level of economy. Here Marx identifies the “falling rate of profit” and crises of overproduction and under-consumption as contradictory features of capitalism that inevitably take it to its unsustainable and final limit. In this structural context of systemic un-reproducibility, revolution emerges from the inherent contradictions in the system, producing a new class actor capable of taking society into a different historical direction by establishing a society that mirrors new understandings of property, economic activity, and individual rights. The second sense addresses the structural nature of revolution at the level of political organization. Here Marx’s focus is on class struggle as the vehicle of revolution. In this scenario, revolution is the culmination of class conflict arising out of the process of proletarianization, the exploitation of labor, and the ever-increasing immiseration of the working classes. These latter processes, Marx notes, are also inherent to capitalism and inevitably intensify class conflict. Revolution is a logical response to these conditions, yet it does not unfold out of nowhere. In addition to the context of class exploitation from which it emerges, revolution requires the political organization of the working classes. Such political organization arises out of the infrastructural development of modern industry, which intensifies economic activity and homogenizes working conditions, thereby increasing the physical concentration of the working classes and allowing for the widespread communication and identification of common interests needed for political mobilization. The infrastructural development of modern industry also establishes the technological conditions—e.g., the telegraph and railway systems—through which the working classes can more effectively coordinate political efforts (e.g., union organizing and party politics) and ultimately engage in revolution. In this context of political organization, revolution emerges as a result of structural facilitation. A successful outbreak of revolution, Marx adds, is necessarily based on a multiclass alliance between the working classes and sectors of the bourgeois and petit bourgeois (including the peasant classes). Overcoming ideological domination is also a significant component of a revolutionary process. Prevailing over this ideocultural obstacle is of paramount importance to the formation of revolutionary class-consciousness, without which the potential of revolution wanes. Marx’s work is inspired by Hegel’s view on the dialectics of history, which conceives of society as moving along a rational and progressive historical trajectory. Much of the early works on revolution, as such, are centered on the issue of whether or not revolution meant rational progress. De Tocqueville 1955 (cited under Socio-structural Approaches), writing on the French Revolution, emphasized its transformative impact, noting that it emerged as a transformative social force at the helm of the replacement of feudal institutions. Notwithstanding this significant insight on the relationship between revolutions and socio-structural transformation in society, de Tocqueville ironically observed that revolution and revolutionaries attack the powers of the state and unmake it only to establish a more powerful, centralized, and “intrusive” state apparatus than the one before the revolution. Le Bon 1913, Le Bon 1966, Espinas 1898, de Tarde 1989, and Sighele 1892 (all cited under On Collective Mentality Approaches), contrary to Marx and de Tocqueville, were highly suspicious of revolution. Developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, their work focused on the detrimental effects of revolution and invariably depicted revolutionary crowds as irrational and prone to committing criminal acts.

The Classical Marxist Approaches

Classical Marxist approaches provide economic and political explanations to our understanding of revolutions. On the one hand, Marx 1976a and Marx 1976b identify the inherent contradictions of capitalism as the root cause of revolutionary upheaval. On the other hand, Marx and Engels 1968, Marx 1970, and Marx 1977 explore the political work dimensions associated with working class struggles in modern economies. Wright 2010 provides an insightful overview of Marxist explanations of revolution.

  • Marx, Karl. 1970. The German ideology. London: Lawrence & Wishart.

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    In this work Marx introduces dialectical historical materialism as an interpretive framework of historical development. Like The Communist Manifesto, The German Ideology serves as a framework for understanding Marx’s political theory of revolution. Among other topics, the issue of ideological domination is explored.

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  • Marx, Karl. 1976a. Capital. Vol. 3, The process of capitalist production as a whole. New York: International Publishers.

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    This volume evaluates the components of capitalism as a system. It serves as a framework for understanding Marx’s economic theory of revolution.

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  • Marx, Karl. 1976b. Capital. Vol. 2, The process of the circulation of capital. New York: International Publishers.

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    This volume evaluates the various and contradictory business cycles that define capitalism as a system. Like Volume 3 of Capital, it serves as a framework for understanding Marx’s economic theory of revolution.

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  • Marx, Karl. 1977. The eighteenth brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. Toronto: Norman Bethune Institute.

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    In this historical treatment of class struggle and failed revolution, Marx examines the political and ideological dynamics that gave rise to political dictatorship in 1851 France.

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  • Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. 1968. The communist manifesto. New York: Modern Reader.

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    In this short manuscript, Marx and Engels lay out a plan for a successful working class revolution. The manuscript calls attention to political organization (including the need for a class alliance), the role of technology in the growth of opposition, the centralization of state power in a post-revolutionary society, and the transformative agenda of communist societies.

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  • Wright, Erik Olin. 2010. Envisioning real utopias. New York: Verso.

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    Written by one of the foremost authorities on Marxism, the volume evaluates Marxist theories of social transformation, including revolution. The author also identifies key drawbacks to capitalism and systematically analyzes various strategies out of it.

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On Collective Mentality Approaches

Espinas 1898, Le Bon 1913, Le Bon 1966, Sighele 1892, and de Tarde 1989 are among the early works on collective mentality. They are the precursors of the collective behavior approach, which focuses on the relationship between spontaneous behavior and political activity. These early works represent misguided attempts at theorizing a pathological relationship between individual and group psychology within the context of revolution. McPhail 1991 provides a corrective to this interpretive tendency that focuses on pathology.

  • de Tarde, Gabriel. 1989. L’opinion et la foule. Paris: Presses universitaires de France.

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    This is another volume on collective psychology emphasizing the deleterious and criminal effects of political mobs in France. Like Sighele, de Tarde also identifies contagion, imitation, and suggestion as central mechanisms of diffusion for a collective mentality.

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  • Espinas, Alfred Victor. 1898. La philosophie sociale du XVIIIe siècle et la revolution. Paris: F. Alcan.

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    This is a volume on group psychology emphasizing the deleterious effects of revolutionary crowds during the French Revolution.

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  • Le Bon, Gustave. 1913. The psychology of revolution. London: T. F. Unwin.

    DOI: 10.1037/14583-000Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In this volume, which focuses on the French Revolution, Le Bon posits that individual rationality is compromised under the hypnotic influence of group psychology found in revolutionary crowds.

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  • Le Bon, Gustave. 1966. The crowd. New York: Viking.

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    In this volume focusing on the French Revolution, Le Bon examines the various group psychology features (e.g., suggestibility and contagion) associated with revolutionary crowds.

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  • McPhail, Clark. 1991. The myth of the madding crowd. New York: A. de Gruyter.

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    A corrective to the “mob psychology” approach found in the works of Le Bon, Sighele, and de Tarde, among others, this volume proposes that emergent and spontaneous behavior (that is, collective behavior), far from being an irrational response to the immediacy of social situations, is rather an adaptive and evaluative response to these, revealing the presence of intelligent reasoning in spontaneous actions.

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  • Sighele, Scipio. 1892. La foule criminelle. Paris: F. Alcan.

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    This is a volume on collective psychology emphasizing the deleterious and criminal effects of political mobs in Italy. Sighele identifies contagion, imitation, and suggestion as the central mechanisms through which an irrational collective mindset is diffused.

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Socio-structural Approaches

Contrary to the pathological tone of collective mentality approaches, socio-structural approaches focus on the structural roots and transformative impact of revolutions on social, economic, and political structures. De Tocqueville 1955 is representative of this trend in the early works of revolution.

  • de Tocqueville, Alexis. 1955. The old regime and the French Revolution. Garden City, NJ: Doubleday.

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    In this famous historical interpretation of the French Revolution, de Tocqueville posited that it had its origins in the division of classes, a malfunctioning state apparatus, and rising expectations prior its outbreak.

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Disciplinary Appraisals

Scholars of revolution have identified several generations in the study of revolutions that emerged in the 20th century. Aya 1979, Aya 1990, Foran 1993, Freeman 1972, Goldstone 1980, Goldstone 1982, and Rule 1988 provide general overviews of these generations of scholarship.

  • Aya, Rod. 1979. Theories of revolution reconsidered: Contrasting models of collective violence. Theory and Society 8:39–99.

    DOI: 10.1007/BF00156400Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In this article, second-generation theorists emphasizing psychological factors and systemic pathology are critically evaluated from the perspective of a third-generation scholar stressing the importance of rational political mobilization.

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  • Aya, Roderic. 1990. Rethinking revolutions and collective violence: Studies on concept, theory, and method. Amsterdam: Het Spinhuis.

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    In this volume, the author extensively and critically evaluates the frustration-aggression models typical of second-generation works. The book is a comprehensive extension of the author’s 1979 article that builds on his “volcanic model” critique of psychologically based approaches.

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  • Foran, John. 1993. Theories of revolution revisited: Toward a fourth generation? Sociological Theory 11:1–20.

    DOI: 10.2307/201977Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In this path-breaking article, three “generations” of the study of revolutions are explored before the contours of fourth-generation works are explored; particular and extensive attention is paid to the works of third- and fourth-generation theorists, who respectively emphasize the structural origins of revolution and the cultural and ideological factors in revolutionary processes. Key works are highlighted as part of an exploration of fourth-generation factors.

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  • Freeman, Michael. 1972. Theories of revolution. British Journal of Political Science 2:339–359.

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    In this article, various “waves” of the study of revolutions are explored; particular attention is paid to the work of second-generation theorists Chalmers Johnson, Neil Smelser, and Ted Gurr.

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  • Goldstone, Jack A. 1980. Review: Theories of revolution: The third generation. World Politics 32:425–453.

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    In this article two “generations” of the study of revolutions are explored before the contours of a third generation are identified; particular and extensive attention is paid to the works representing the third generation, which emphasize the socio-structural and mobilizational features associated with the origins and making of revolution.

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  • Goldstone, Jack A. 1982. The comparative and historical study of revolutions. Annual Review of Sociology 8:187–207.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.so.08.080182.001155Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In this article, four “generations” of the study of revolutions are explored; particular and extensive attention is paid to the works representing the first and third generations.

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  • Rule, James B. 1988. Theories of civil violence. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    This is another critical appraisal of second-generation theorists from the perspective of another third-generation scholar stressing the importance of rational political mobilization.

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First-Generation Theorists

Basing their work on the comparative study of major Western revolutions—the American, English, French, and Russian cases—first-generation theorists provided historical descriptions of revolution aimed at laying out and coherently relating the facts of revolution. Brinton 1965, Edwards 1927, and Pettee 1937 posit that all revolutions go through three distinct historical phases, each embodying various political and structural features associated with the process of revolution. These historical phases include (1) a legitimation-crisis in the period before revolution; (2) an acute political crisis marking the outbreak of revolution and leading to the overthrow of the ancien régime by a revolutionary coalition; (3) and a post-overthrow period in which radical, centrist, and liberal factions compete over state power and the course of revolution, with pragmatists (usually liberals) assuming power in the end. The pre-revolution period is marked by intellectual desertion, instances of repression, and reform failures. At the center of pre-revolutionary conditions, sometimes emerging over the course of centuries, is a crisis over the “sacredness of property” and romantic ideals of freedom. At this stage, the first signs of trouble come in the form of critique of state policies, revealing widespread dissatisfaction with regime performance. The existent regime is increasingly recognized as failing to deliver services to its social and political constituents. This period is also marked by attempts on the part of the regime to contain growing discontent. These efforts, often taking the form of unwarranted repression or “last-minute” reforms, tend to add rather than dissolve the growing crisis of legitimation, further undermining whatever legitimacy the regime possesses at this stage. Repression and reform, paradoxically, are reminders that the regime has failed to deliver and, given their function as reminders, they tend to contribute to the diffusion and “authenticity” of existent discourses of regime opposition. The outbreak of revolution has its start with precipitants (or triggers), spontaneous events that, on the surface, appear to be of little political significance. These include a limited but essential number of mob actions. Precipitants are surface manifestations beneath which lies a deeper political crisis rooted in the regime’s inability to prevent, for example, a fiscal, political, and/or military crisis from overwhelming its governing operations. This political crisis, coupled with the impact of precipitants, create a power vacuum from which opposition groups craft a fragile but effective revolutionary coalition that in the end manages to overthrow the ancien régime. Outbreaks of revolution are a reflection of a regime’s inability to rule, and the stages that follow such outbreaks, including the reign of terror and Thermidor, are defined by struggles over the ideals of revolution. The post-overthrow period is one of political competition over the course of revolution and the control of state power, punctuated by, first, moderate rule, then, radical rule, and, finally, liberal rule, and ultimately culminating in a new status quo with centralized state power. Initial moderate rule breaks down because it fails to meet revolutionary expectations. The rise of radical rule is a response to the failure of moderate rule; however, it too fails because it imposes a reign of terror in the name of revolutionary virtue and the defense of revolution. The oppressive nature of radical rule in turn creates the conditions for a Thermidorian reaction, which ends radical rule and opens the door to a period of sensible rule. Thermidor is marked by the condemnation of the excesses of the radicals, their imprisonment, and often, their execution. Political work during this final stage in the process of revolution shifts emphasis from social transformation to economic and political practicability. Thermidorian reaction and pressing external threats, however, often allow military leaders (e.g., Cromwell or Napoleon) to hijack the revolution, returning revolutionary society to a kind of status quo ante marked by political suppression. Notwithstanding, Thermidor is the final precursor to a new status quo. In addition to relating the facts of revolution, the works in this theoretical vein also identify the consequences (positive and negative) as well as the common features of revolution: They emerge in relatively prosperous societies, in the contexts of state breakdowns and intellectual desertion, and are rooted in class antagonism.

  • Brinton, Crane. 1965. The anatomy of revolution. New York: Vintage.

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    This comparative-historical volume, building on the work of Edwards, also represents a break from mob-psychology approaches. In it, the author explores the various historical stages associated with the American, English, French, and Russian cases. Of particular note are his treatments of revolutionaries (they are not ipso facto pathological), their organizational efforts in pre-overthrow events, and Thermidor.

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  • Edwards, Lyford Paterson. 1927. The natural history of revolution. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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    In this comparative-historical volume on classical revolutions (with comparisons to the Irish, Hungarian, and German), the author proposes that revolutions are not spontaneous political events but instead one specific political manifestation of historical development (or the evolution of society). Revolutions are defined by social and mental mechanisms manifesting themselves at various stages of the processes of revolution.

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  • Pettee, George S. 1937. The process of revolution. New York: Harper and Row.

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    Focusing on the French, American, and Russian cases, Pettee argues that the historical processes associated with revolutions are primarily defined by grand ideological struggles. Revolutions emerge when ideological crises over politics, moral, and economic practices coincide.

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Second-Generation Theorists

Developed within the postcolonial and Cold War contexts, primarily inspired by psychological and modernization (structural functionalism) theories, and covering the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s, second-generation theories are general explanations of political violence, which include the assessment of revolutionary situations. The theorists of this generation aimed to answer the question of why revolutions emerge, attributing its emergence to cognitive dissonance and dysfunctional social systems. Davies 1962, Davies 1970, Festinger 1957, Dollard 1974, and Gurr 1970, proponents of the cognitive dissonance approach, suggest that people are motivated to participate in revolution when their actual social conditions are inconsistent with anticipated social conditions, that is, when rising expectations about social or economic conditions are frustrated by actual conditions. This difference between actual and anticipated conditions is at the root of cognitive dissonance. It creates feelings of anger, frustration, and resentment and ultimately compels people to engage in revolutionary activity as a way to resolve the injustice/unfairness of social differences. Frustration, anger, and resentment over economic and/or social status differences, accordingly, are significant motives for revolution. Huntington 1968, Johnson 1966, and Smelser 1963, proponents of the dysfunctional system approach, suggest that popular discontent with the status quo, including radical disaffection, gains momentum when social institutions in society fail to achieve systemic integrity. The absence or lack of systemic integrity—itself a pathological condition—is disorienting to individuals. It leaves individuals in society in a state of anomie and opens the door for considering value systems that are alternatives to the taken-for-granted ones of contemporary circumstances. According to this perspective, failure to achieve systemic integrity typically happens when society finds itself in a state of institutional imbalance, e.g., when social institutions fail to operate in a state of functional interdependence or, to put it differently, when one or two social institutions increasingly develop and operate independent of each other. A concrete example of institutional imbalance would be when the political system fails to keep up with the political demands of an increasingly educated and economically well-off population. Such an imbalance runs the risk of undermining the status quo because of the inconsistency between the political expectations of newly situated groups in society and the established political system’s capacity to accommodate these. When a political system is increasingly unable to ameliorate this imbalance (or systemic dysfunction) between institutions, when it loses its legitimacy, and when spontaneous events undermine it, the potential for revolution increases. Olson 1963 suggests that modernization has a destabilizing effect on emergent modern societies. The rapid growth of modernization in these societies, according to this perspective, creates institutional imbalance, leaving society open to revolution.

  • Davies, James C. 1962. Toward a theory of revolution. American Sociological Review 27:5–19.

    DOI: 10.2307/2089714Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In this groundbreaking article that foreshadows the work of de Tocqueville and Brinton, the author introduces his rising expectations hypothesis, the main point of which is that revolution is most likely to take place when cognitive dissonance is produced as a result of the gap between expected living conditions (perceived future reality) and actual living conditions (present reality).

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  • Davies, James C., ed. 1970. When men revolt and why: A reader in political violence and revolution. New York: Free Press.

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    In this comprehensive anthology various psychological factors and relationships, in addition to the frustration-aggression mechanism, are considered in the study of political violence.

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  • Dollard, John. 1974. Frustration and aggression. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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    In this volume the author and his colleagues define and explore the causal relationship between frustration and aggression in the study of violent conflict.

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  • Festinger, Leon. 1957. A theory of cognitive dissonance. Evanston, IL: Row, Peterson.

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    In this path-breaking social-psychological volume, the author introduces the principles of cognitive dissonance.

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  • Gurr, Ted Robert. 1970. Why men rebel. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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    In this volume, the author develops a theory of types of political violence that considers their causes and the social processes through which they unfold and are actualized. Among the variables that determine the potential of political violence, the author identifies the scope and intensity of relative deprivation (this being one particular manifestation of cognitive dissonance), moral and instrumental justifications, dissident support, and state coercion.

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  • Huntington, Samuel P. 1968. Political order in changing societies. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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    This volume is a synthesis of the cognitive dissonance and dysfunctional system approaches.

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  • Johnson, Chalmers. 1966. Revolutionary change. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

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    Based on the structural-functionalist perspective, the author identifies various social-structural consequences stemming from the disruption of institutional functional interdependence in society. These include the use of coercion as the primary means of establishing institutional interdependence, loss of authority, and “accelerators” (events that determine the success of a revolutionary attempt). The latter three dysfunctional outcomes constitute the necessary and sufficient causes of revolution. When combined, a revolutionary outbreak takes place.

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  • Olson, Marcur. 1963. Rapid growth as a destabilizing force. Journal of Economic History 23:529–552.

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    In this article the destabilizing effects of modernization are linked to the outbreak of revolution.

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  • Smelser, Neil. 1963. Theory of collective behavior. New York: Free Press.

    DOI: 10.1037/14412-000Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Based on the structural-functionalist perspective, the author identifies and examines various types of collective behavior, including revolution. Revolutions are value- and norm-oriented movements, likely to take place (1) when communication, discourse, and policy structures are conducive to political challenges (“structural conduciveness”), (2) when social expectations are frustrated, (3) when oppositional beliefs gain traction, (4) when unexpected events signal the need for change, (5) when opposition leaders orchestrate direct action, and (6) when social control agencies cannot contain the social forces of change.

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Third-Generation Theorists

Third-generation scholars, writing primarily in the 1970s and 1980s, but also in the 1990s, developed structural explanations of revolution. They sought to explain the origins and outcomes of revolution not in terms of institutional imbalances (or systemic dysfunction), nor in terms of psychological motives derived from general discontent, but rather in terms of regime-elite discord, the structure of national economies, the revolutionary potential (or role) of the social classes embedded in these, and the impact of geopolitical and world economy pressures. The work of third-generation theorists is more historically grounded, rooted on class analysis (often aiming to challenge classical Marxism), and based on conjunctural (as opposed to generalizable) models of interpretation. Scholars in this tradition do not assume that revolutions share similar causal determinants; they recognize the diversity of causes behind the diversity of revolutions. The tendency to conceive of revolutions as ideological struggles is similarly absent in these works. Ideology does play a role, but typically not a causal one, and its impact varies in pre- and post-revolutionary scenarios. Scholars belonging to this generation have also detailed the political factors that make for successful revolutionary outcomes. This focus on political factors, contrary to previous work, reveals revolutionary politics as intentional, purposeful, rational, and based on specific grievances (as opposed to general discontent). Third-generation theorists, in short, reveal revolutions as both structural and intentional in nature. On the one hand, those who focus on the structural determinants of revolutions tend to treat mobilizational processes as epiphenomena. On the other hand, those who underscore the importance of political mobilization tend to take for granted the structural conditions from which revolutions emerge. Despite this paradoxical portrayal, third-generation theorists moved the study of revolutions beyond the socio-pathological and dysfunctional trappings inherent in second-generation models.

Structural Approaches

Structural approaches focus their attention on the structural conditions that make revolutions plausible. Vulnerable state apparatuses, class conflict, national and international economic practices, and demographic shifts are among the structural features that causally determined the outbreak of revolutions. Goldstone 1991 emphasizes demography. Parsa 2000 and Goodwin 2001 focus on contradictory state practices that make the state apparatus vulnerable to oppositional challenges. Paige 1978 finds that political conflict is determined by the nature of export-oriented markets and their impact on class relations. Skocpol 1979 considers the nature of state and landed class relations, the strength of domestic economies, the revolutionary potential of peasant classes, and international military and economic pressure as the structural preconditions of classical social revolutions.

  • Goldstone, Jack. 1991. Revolution and rebellion in the early modern world. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    In this comparative study of the English, French, Ottoman, and Chinese Revolutions, the author argues that demographic growth is at the center of revolution in these societies. Shifts in population size resulted in price inflation, wage decline, and increased taxation, ultimately leading to elite resistance and the ideological mobilization of popular classes against the state. Ideological calls for change, Goldstone insists, followed (rather than preceded) the institutional breakdown of society.

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  • Goodwin, Jeff. 2001. No other way out: States and revolutionary movements, 1945–1991. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511812125Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In this award-winning comparative study focused on Eastern Europe, Central America, and Southeast Asia, the author examines the role of state practices in facilitating revolutions in the post–World War II context, identifying five state practices that operate as the preconditions of a revolutionary outbreak: (1) unpopular social and economic policies, (2) political exclusion of challengers, (3) indiscriminate state violence, (4) arbitrary rule, and (5) inadequate control of the armed forces. Although considered, economic and ideological factors are given lesser explanatory power than political ones in this treatment of revolution.

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  • Paige, Jeffrey. 1978. Agrarian revolution: Social movements and export agriculture in the underdeveloped world. New York: Free Press.

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    In this economic model of revolution, the author finds that the organizational nature of export-oriented agricultural systems in peripheral societies determines the nature of political conflict in them. Commercial hacienda and plantation systems tend to produce rebellions calling for land access. Smallholding systems give rise to social movements that call for commodity reform. Lastly, sharecropping or migratory estate systems are the most likely to give rise, respectively, to socialist or nationalist revolutions.

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  • Parsa, Misagh. 2000. States, ideologies, and social revolutions: A comparative analysis of Iran, Nicaragua, and the Philippines. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511491054Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In this comparative interpretation of Third World revolutions, the author examines two successful cases (Iran and Nicaragua) and a failed one (Philippines). He finds that the conduct of the state (its exclusionary and repressive tactics) creates the contexts of opportunity upon which effective but fragile multiclass coalitions may be forged. In this insightful state-centered account, effective coalitional dynamics, not ideological mobilization, make for successful revolutionary outbreaks.

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  • Skocpol, Theda. 1979. States and social revolutions: A comparative study of France, Russia, and China. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511815805Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In this agenda-setting tome the author famously asserted, “revolutions are not made; they come.” In this comparative evaluation of the Chinese, French, and Russian cases, revolutions came to these societies when their agrarian economies failed to produce adequate surpluses; when intense economic competition from abroad (and corresponding military threats) undermined their respective state apparatuses’ ability to govern; and when state practices associated with modernization projects threatened the material and political interests of both the landed elite and peasant classes.

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  • Wolf, Eric. 1969. Peasant wars of the twentieth century. New York: Harper and Row.

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    In a comparative analysis of “rural revolutions” in Algeria, China, Cuba, Mexico, Russia, and Vietnam, the author makes a case for the significance of uneven development and demographic growth in the emerge of rural-based revolutionary movements. The latter two factors have a dislocating impact on existent economic, political, and social arrangements, which in effect create the conditions for peasant wars and revolutionary mobilization. Key to the successful mobilization of the peasantry is the tactical role that the middle peasant plays.

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Political Approaches

Political approaches highlight the political processes/conditions that make revolution possible. Migdal 1974 accounts for the impact of predatory capitalism on the politics that lead to revolution. Tilly 1978 focuses on the accumulation of resources, that is, the degree to which revolutionaries can effectively mobilize the coercive power, commitment for change, and economic resources in an aggrieved population. Trimberger 1978 examines political dynamics in elite-driven revolutions. Wickham-Crowley 1992 studies the nature of political conditions in Latin American revolutions.

  • Migdal, Joel. 1974. Peasants, politics, and revolution: Pressures toward political and social change in the third world. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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    In this treatment of peasant revolutions in the Third World, the author makes a case for the significance of class structures in peasant societies, geo-economic location, and the relationship between these in the study of revolution. In this account of revolution, rural dislocation or proletarianization, predatory capitalism, and the agricultural and class systems rooted on the latter condition are the socio-structural contexts for revolutionary mobilization. The accounts of revolutionary mobilization in China and Vietnam bring to life this politico-structural model of revolution.

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  • Tilly, Charles. 1978. From mobilization to revolution. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

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    In this agenda-setting volume, the author proposes that that the key to making sense of revolution lies not in “institutional disequilibrium,” the reactive responses produced by frustration-aggression mechanisms, or the fiscal crisis of the state, but rather on understanding how revolutionary groups can effectively mobilize resources (military, economic, and solidarity) against established authorities.

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  • Trimberger, Ellen Kay. 1978. Revolution from above: Military bureaucrats and development in Japan, Turkey, Egypt, and Peru. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books.

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    As the title suggests, the focus of this volume is political elite–directed revolutions. In this change-from-above historical account of transition to modernization in Egypt, Japan, Peru, and Turkey, state bureaucrats make revolution in the name of progress, but in the end reinforce the authoritarian nature of bureaucratic structures in society.

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  • Wickham-Crowley, Timothy P. 1992. Guerrillas and revolution in Latin America: A comparative study of insurgents and regimes since 1956. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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    In this comparative analysis of Latin American revolutions, the author finds that successful social revolutions in the region (Cuba and Nicaragua) took place when the following political conditions came together: when peasant (or working) classes were culturally and structurally predisposed to support attempts at social revolutions; when guerrillas effectively mobilized military and political resources; and when the regimes lost US support.

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Fourth-Generation Theorists

The distinguishing feature of fourth-generation works is their emphasis on agency. Such an emphasis, however, does not typically discount structural explanations. Writing since the 1990s, scholars representing this generation have conceptually and empirically evaluated the relationship between culture and revolution, the role of gender and race, the effects of underdevelopment, and increasingly the role of emotion and storytelling in the making of revolution, as well as the nature and constitution of revolutionary subjectivity (identity). The majority of works in this generation focus on Third World revolutions of the 20th century.

Gender

The increased participation of women in revolutionary struggles has been a trend since the 1970s. Their participation is a reflection of practical (those associated with equal institutional treatment) and, increasingly, strategic (those associated with feminist agendas) interests. Kampwirth 2002, Kampwirth 2004, Klouzal 2008, Shayne 2004, and Viterna 2013 add to this analytical trend that evaluates the role of gender in revolutionary struggles and its impact on post-revolutionary identities.

  • Kampwirth, Karen. 2002. Women & guerrilla movements: Nicaragua, El Salvador, Chiapas, Cuba. University Park: Pennsylvania State Univ. Press.

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    Moving the analysis of revolution beyond male-centric explanations, the author shows why and how women in Chiapas, Cuba, Nicaragua, and El Salvador took up arms against their respective states. She finds that changes at the level of economy, family structure, and religion, as well as radical re-conceptualizations of motherhood, engendered their involvement.

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  • Kampwirth, Karen. 2004. Feminism and the legacy of revolution: Nicaragua, El Salvador, Chiapas. Athens, OH: Ohio Univ. Press.

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    In a comparative study of post-revolutionary Chiapas, Nicaragua, and El Salvador, the author evaluates the less-than-progressive impact of revolution on gender relations and the state of feminism.

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  • Klouzal, Linda A. 2008. Women and rebel communities in the Cuban insurgent movement, 1952–1959. Youngstown, NY: Cambria.

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    Based on a small sample of interviews with women revolutionaries, the author finds that their class, cultural, and political backgrounds and the experiences of state repression and the loss of family members, as well as intimate peer relationships, compelled these women to participate in the Cuban Revolution.

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  • Shayne, Julie D. 2004. The revolution question: Feminisms in El Salvador, Chile, and Cuba. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Univ. Press.

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    According to the author, women worked as “revolutionary bridges,” facilitating the integration of ordinary people in the Chilean, Cuban, and Salvadoran revolutions. The experience of revolution, moreover, facilitated the rise of “revolutionary feminism” in post-revolutionary contexts.

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  • Viterna, Jocelyn. 2013. Women in war: The micro-processes of mobilization in El Salvador. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199843633.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In this volume that examines women’s guerrilla participation, the author finds that gendered narratives and gendered identities—both predicated on traditional gender expectations, the idealization of male protection, and the obligations of motherhood—played a crucial role in guerrilla recruitment, women’s participation as combatants and noncombatants, and their post-revolutionary demobilization.

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Culture

In an effort to understand the motives behind revolutionary involvement, scholars of revolution have increasingly turned to examining the role of political cultures in the making and institutionalization of revolution. This has meant making sense of the mechanisms through which culture operates as an independent factor in both pre-revolutionary and post-revolutionary undertakings. It has also meant mapping the dialectical relationship between culture and structural conditions, paying close attention to the processes associated with the transformation of existing ideologies and the creation of new ideological orientations by would-be revolutionaries, and evaluating the political impact of oppositional discourse in the context of socio-structural conditions conducive to radical challenges. Emirbayer and Goodwin 1994, Farhi 1990, Foran 2005, McDaniel 1991, Moaddel 1993, Reed and Foran 2002, Sewell 1985, and Skocpol 1985 qualify as significant conceptual and case-study contributions to the study of cultural processes in the making and institutionalization of revolutions.

  • Emirbayer, Mustafa, and Jeff Goodwin. 1994. Symbols, positions, objects: Toward a new theory of revolutions and collective action. History and Theory 35:358–374.

    DOI: 10.2307/2505454Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In this path-breaking article the relationship between culture and revolution is theoretically explored. The authors call for a synthesis of structural, cultural, socio-psychological, and emotional approaches in the study of revolution.

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  • Farhi, Farideh. 1990. States and urban-based revolutions: Iran and Nicaragua. Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press.

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    Revolutions emerged in Iran and Nicaragua because modernization policies undermined state-class relations, destabilized urban classes, and generated grievances in society; because urban classes were able to ideologically mobilize the nation against the regime; and because the geopolitical climate was favorable to revolutionary opposition. Although not causal in their effect, preexisting networks of oppositional cultures—Sandinismo and liberation theology in Nicaragua and Shiʿa Islam in Iran—made revolutionary mobilization possible.

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  • Foran, John. 2005. Taking power: On the origins of third world revolutions. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511488979Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In this comparative study of Third World revolutions the author finds that successful social revolutions in China, Cuba, Iran, Mexico, and Nicaragua took place when: (1) “dependent development” (which operates as a structural precondition affecting class and economic conditions); (2) repressive, exclusionary, and personalist state practices (which undermine the relationship between state and classes); (3) “political cultures of opposition,” are mobilized on a nationalist basis; (4) an “economic crisis” compromises the legitimacy of the state; and (5) a favorable geo-political climate that “legitimates” revolutionary opposition in the eyes of the population come together. The combination of these factors, the author further cogently argues, produced an effective multiclass, multigender, and multiracial alliance capable of overthrowing regimes in these societies.

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  • McDaniel, Tim. 1991. Autocracy, modernization, and revolution in Russia and Iran. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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    According to the author, autocratic modernization operated as a structural precondition for revolution in Iran and Russia. This contradictory state formation—promoting modernization and autocratic rule simultaneously—is at the center of revolutionary crises in these societies. The author also demonstrates how cultures of rebellion—Russian Marxism and Shiʿism—gave orientation to revolutionary endeavors in these countries.

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  • Moaddel, Mansoor. 1993. Class, politics, and ideology in the Iranian revolution. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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    In this provocative study of the Iranian Revolution the author seeks to make a case for the causal role of ideology (as opposed to structural conditions) in the outbreak and outcome of revolution. The author insists that ideology was the sole “constitutive feature” and prime shaper of “revolutionary situations” in the Iranian Revolution.

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  • Reed, Jean-Pierre, and John Foran. 2002. Political cultures of opposition: Exploring idioms, ideologies, and revolutionary agency in the case of Nicaragua. Critical Sociology 28:335–370.

    DOI: 10.1177/08969205020280030401Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In this award-winning article, the authors explore the role of cultural idioms (liberation theology) and ideology (Sandinismo), including the intersections between these, in the making of revolution in Nicaragua.

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  • Sewell, William H., Jr. 1985. Ideologies and social revolutions: Reflections on the French case. The Journal of Modern History 57:57–85.

    DOI: 10.1086/242777Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In a debate about the French Revolution (with Theda Skocpol) that predates the cultural turn in the sociology of revolutions, the author proposes that revolutionary ideology—as an anonymous, transpersonal, and collective social force—played a role in the overthrow of the ancien régime.

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  • Skocpol, Theda. 1985. Cultural idioms and political ideologies in the revolutionary reconstruction of state power: A rejoinder to Sewell. The Journal of Modern History 57:86–96.

    DOI: 10.1086/242778Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In this precursor to the cultural turn, embedded in a debate about the role of ideas in the French Revolution, and after reconsidering her structuralist approach to revolutions, the author proposes that the key to understanding successful revolutionary mobilization in pre-revolutionary contexts is “cultural idioms” (long-standing, anonymous, and local systems of meaning) not the ideology of revolutionary leaders.

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Emotions

As part of the cultural turn and the focus on agency, scholars of revolution have increasingly paid attention to the causal role of emotions in revolutionary processes. Among others, Bayard de Volo 2006, Goodwin 1997, and Reed 2004 have followed suit on this analytical trend, paying special attention, respectively, to the destabilizing and transformative impact of emotions in revolutionary engagement in both pre- and post-revolutionary contexts.

Revolutionary Identity

Focusing on the social, cultural, and political processes contributing to the formation of revolutionary subjects has become a research agenda for fourth-generation scholars striving to elucidate the nature and causes of revolutionary identities. Kruijt 2008 finds that social (expansion of secondary-school and university systems), political (unequal conditions and a history of repression), and cultural (political cultures based on social justice goals) factors operated as both structural and subjective motives for joining revolutionary struggles in Latin America. Selbin 1993 underscores the importance of charismatic leadership and ideology in the consolidation and institutionalization of revolution. Wood 2003 evaluates agentic determination in the guerrilla struggle in El Salvador.

  • Kruijt, Dirk. 2008. Guerrillas: War and peace in Central America. London: Zed Books

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    Based on interview data (ninety interviews), this volume provides a useful introduction to revolutionary movements in Central America during the 1970s and 1980s. The author’s central agenda is to tell the tales of these revolutions from the perspective of the leaders who spearheaded the armed struggles against repressive regimes in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. Revolutionary subjects emerged in these countries as a result of cultural, political, and social factors. The focus on peace negotiations and the postwar reintegration of guerrilla forces into economic and political life—often unexplored dimensions of revolutionary politics—is a significant feature of the book.

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  • Selbin, Eric. 1993. Modern Latin American revolutions. Boulder, CO: Westview.

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    In this study of four Latin American revolutions, the author posits that they are largely the result of human action (agency) not structural determinants. Primarily based on an analysis of post-revolutionary politics, Selbin brings into analytical focus the role charismatic leadership and ideology played in the consolidation and institutionalization of revolutionary commitment in Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Grenada.

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  • Wood, Elisabeth. 2003. Insurgent collective action and civil war in El Salvador. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511808685Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Based on ethnographic work, the author evaluates the agentic pleasures of insurgent action and their role in the determination of revolutionary actors who aspired to establish new political structures in El Salvador.

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Storytelling

Fourth-generation scholars have similarly paid attention to stories and storytelling as cultural resources through which people give meaning to revolutionary action. The focus on stories has presented itself as an opportunity to elucidate the “passionate commitment” that sustains revolutionary efforts and to evaluate “the stories people tell” about why they take up arms against the state. Selbin 2010 comprehensively evaluates stories of revolution, rebellion, and resistance as sources of collective identity and revolutionary orientations.

  • Selbin, Eric. 2010. Revolution, rebellion, resistance: The power of story. London: Zed Books.

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    In this volume we learn that myth, memory, and mimesis, in combination with cultural re-editing, constitute the building blocks of stories of revolution, indispensable components of revolutionary processes. The volume demonstrates the historical currency, legacy, and significance of stories of democratic and social revolutions, stories of freedom and liberation, and stories of forgotten struggles. These archetypical revolution stories, the author contends, embody the idealism, hope, and imagination of revolutionary heroes and martyrs.

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Revolution and the Dynamics of Globalization in the 21st Century

The distinguishing feature of scholarship following the fourth generation is its emphasis on globalization now that we live in increasingly interconnected contexts. The works representing this trend have increasingly paid attention to the connections between globalization and revolution. Foran 2003 and Foran, et al. 2008 have begun to steer us in this direction.

  • Foran, John, ed. 2003. The future of revolutions: Rethinking radical change in the age of globalization. London: Zed Books.

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    A collection of twenty essays, the volume explores the relationship between globalization and revolutions, considers alternative strategies for revolutions in light of the latter relationship, and evaluates the potential of revolution in Mexico, Afghanistan, and the Persian Gulf states.

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  • Foran, John, David Lane, and Andreja Zivkovic, eds. 2008. Revolution in the making of the modern world: Social identities, globalization, and modernity. Milton Park, UK: Routledge.

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    In this anthology of fifteen essays, the authors examine the concept of revolution, its legacy on modernities, and the social, cultural, and political possibilities of its future in the context of globalization in the 21st century.

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