In political science
, a revolution
, "a turn around") is a fundamental and relatively sudden change in political power and political organization which occurs when the population revolts against the government, typically due to perceived oppression (political, social, economic) or political incompetence
In book V of the Politics
, the Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle
(384–322 BC) described two types of political revolution:
- Complete change from one constitution to another
- Modification of an existing constitution.
Revolutions have occurred through human history and vary widely in terms of methods, duration and motivating ideology
. Their results include major changes in culture, economy and socio
, usually in response to perceived overwhelming autocracy
Scholarly debates about what does and does not constitute a revolution center on several issues. Early studies of revolutions primarily analyzed events in European history
from a psychological perspective, but more modern examinations include global events and incorporate perspectives from several social sciences, including sociology
and political science
. Several generations of scholarly thought on revolutions have generated many competing theories and contributed much to the current understanding of this complex phenomenon.
The word "revolucion"
is known in French
from the 13th century, and "revolution" in English
by the late fourteenth century, with regard to the revolving motion of celestial bodies. "Revolution" in the sense of representing abrupt change in a social order
is attested by at least 1450.
Political usage of the term had been well established by 1688 in the description of the replacement of James II
with William III
. This incident was termed the "Glorious Revolution"
There are many different typologies of revolutions in social science and literature.
- political revolutions, sudden and violent revolutions that seek not only to establish a new political system but to transform an entire society, and;
- slow but sweeping transformations of the entire society that take several generations to bring about (such as changes in religion).
One of several different Marxist
divides revolutions into;
- early bourgeois
- early proletarian
, a modern scholar of revolutions, differentiated between;
- rural revolution
- urban revolution
- Coup d'état, e.g. Egypt, 1952
- revolution from above, e.g. Mao's Great leap forward of 1958
- revolution from without, e.g. the allied invasions of Italy, 1944 and Germany, 1945.
- revolution by osmosis, e.g. the gradual Islamization of several countries.
These categories are not mutually exclusive; the Russian revolution of 1917
began with the urban revolution to depose the Czar, followed by rural revolution, followed by the Bolshevik
coup in November. Katz also cross-classified revolutions as follows;
- Central; countries, usually Great powers, which play a leading role in a Revolutionary wave; e.g. the USSR, Nazi Germany, Iran since 1979.
- Aspiring revolutions, which follow the Central revolution
- subordinate or puppet revolutions
- rival revolutions, e.g. communist Yugoslavia, and China after 1969
A further dimension to Katz's typology
is that revolutions are either against
(anti-monarchy, anti-dictatorial, anti-communist, anti-democratic) or for
(pro-fascism, communism, nationalism etc.). In the latter cases, a transition period is often necessary to decide on the direction taken.
The term revolution
has also been used to denote great changes outside the political sphere. Such revolutions are usually recognized as having transformed in society, culture, philosophy, and technology much more than political systems
; they are often known as social revolutions
Some can be global, while others are limited to single countries. One of the classic examples of the usage of the word revolution
in such context is the Industrial Revolution
, Scientific Revolution
or the Commercial Revolution
. Note that such revolutions also fit the "slow revolution" definition of Tocqueville.
A similar example is the Digital Revolution
Political and socioeconomic revolutions
Perhaps most often, the word "revolution" is employed to denote a change in social and political institutions. Jeff Goodwin
gives two definitions of a revolution. First, a broad one, including
any and all instances in which a state or a political regime is overthrown and thereby transformed by a popular movement in an irregular, extraconstitutional and/or violent fashion.
Second, a narrow one, in which
revolutions entail not only mass mobilization
and regime change
, but also more or less rapid and fundamental social, economic and/or cultural change, during or soon after the struggle for state power.
an effort to transform the political institutions and the justifications for political authority in society, accompanied by formal or informal mass mobilization and non-institutionalized actions that undermine authorities.
Political and socioeconomic revolutions have been studied in many social sciences
, particularly sociology
, political sciences
. Among the leading scholars in that area have been or are Crane Brinton
, Charles Brockett
, Farideh Farhi
, John Foran
, John Mason Hart
, Samuel Huntington
, Jack Goldstone
, Jeff Goodwin
, Ted Roberts Gurr
, Fred Halliday
, Chalmers Johnson
, Tim McDaniel
, Barrington Moore
, Jeffery Paige
, Vilfredo Pareto
, Terence Ranger
, Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy
, Theda Skocpol
, James Scott
, Eric Selbin
, Charles Tilly
, Ellen Kay Trimberger
, Carlos Vistas
, John Walton
, Timothy Wickham-Crowley
, and Eric Wolf
Second generation theorists sought to develop detailed theories of why and when revolutions arise, grounded in more complex social behavior
theories. They can be divided into three major approaches: psychological, sociological and political.
The works of Ted Robert Gurr
, Ivo K. Feierbrand
, Rosalind L. Feierbrand
, James A. Geschwender
, David C. Schwartz
, and Denton E. Morrison
fall into the first category. They followed theories of cognitive psychology
and frustration-aggression theory
and saw the cause of revolution in the state of mind of the masses, and while they varied in their approach as to what exactly caused the people to revolt (e.g., modernization, recession, or discrimination), they agreed that the primary cause for revolution was the widespread frustration with socio-political situation.
The second group, composed of academics such as Chalmers Johnson
, Neil Smelser
, Bob Jessop
, Mark Hart
, Edward A. Tiryakian
, and Mark Hagopian
, followed in the footsteps of Talcott Parsons
and the structural-functionalist
theory in sociology; they saw society as a system in equilibrium between various resources, demands and subsystems (political, cultural, etc.). As in the psychological school, they differed in their definitions of what causes disequilibrium, but agreed that it is a state of a severe disequilibrium that is responsible for revolutions.
The second generation theorists saw the development of the revolutions as a two-step process; first, some change results in the present situation being different from the past; second, the new situation creates an opportunity for a revolution to occur. In that situation, an event that in the past would not be sufficient to cause a revolution (e.g., a war, a riot, a bad harvest), now is sufficient; however, if authorities are aware of the danger, they can still prevent a revolution through reform or repression.
In time, scholars began to analyze hundreds of other events as revolutions (see List of revolutions and rebellions
), and differences in definitions and approaches gave rise to new definitions and explanations. The theories of the second generation have been criticized for their limited geographical scope, difficulty in empirical verification, as well as that while they may explain some particular revolutions, they did not explain why revolutions did not occur in other societies in very similar situations.
The criticism of the second generation led to the rise of a third generation of theories, with writers such as Theda Skocpol
, Barrington Moore
, Jeffrey Paige
, and others expanding on the old Marxist class conflict
approach, turning their attention to rural agrarian-state conflicts, state conflicts with autonomous elites, and the impact of interstate economic and military competition on domestic political change Particularly Skocpol's States and Social Revolutions
became one of the most widely recognized works of the third generation; Skocpol defined revolution as "rapid, basic transformations of society's state and class structures [...] accompanied and in part carried through by class-based revolts from below", attributing revolutions to a conjunction of multiple conflicts involving state, elites and the lower classes.
Defining revolutions as mostly European violent state versus people and class struggles
conflicts was no longer sufficient. The study of revolutions thus evolved in three directions, firstly, some researchers were applying previous or updated structuralist
theories of revolutions to events beyond the previously analyzed, mostly European conflicts. Secondly, scholars called for greater attention to conscious agency
in the form of ideology and culture in shaping revolutionary mobilization and objectives. Third, analysts of both revolutions and social movements realized that those phenomena have much in common, and a new 'fourth generation' literature on contentious politics has developed that attempts to combine insights from the study of social movements and revolutions in hopes of understanding both phenomena.
Further, social science research on revolution, primarily work in political science, has begun to move beyond individual or comparative case studies towards large-N empirical studies assessing the causes and implications of revolution. Initial studies generally rely on the Polity Project’s data on democratization
Such analyses, like those by Enterline, Maoz
and Mansfield and Snyder,
identify revolutions based on regime changes indicated by a change in the country’s score on Polity’s autocracy to democracy scale. More recently, scholars like Jeff Colgan have argued that Polity, which measures the degree of democratic or autocratic authority in a state's governing institutions based on the openness of executive recruitment, constraints on executive authority, and political competition, is inadequate because it measures democratization, not revolution, and fails to account for regimes which come to power by revolution but fail to change the structure of the state and society sufficiently to yield a notable difference in Polity score.
Instead, Colgan offers a new data set on revolutionary leaders which identifies governments that "transform the existing social, political, and economic relationships of the state by overthrowing or rejecting the principal existing institutions of society."
This most recent data set has been employed to make empirically-based contributions to the literature on revolution by identifying links between revolution and the likelihood of international disputes.
Revolutions have also been approached from anthropological perspectives. Drawing on Victor Turner’s writings on ritual and performance, Bjorn Thomassen
has argued that revolutions can be understood as "liminal" moments: modern political revolutions very much resemble rituals and can therefore be studied within a process approach.
This would imply not only a focus on political behavior "from below", but also to recognize moments where "high and low" are relativized, made irrelevant or subverted, and where the micro and macro levels fuse together in critical conjunctions.
Economist Douglass North
argued that it is much easier for revolutionaries to alter formal political institutions such as laws and constitutions than to alter informal social conventions. According to North, inconsistencies between rapidly changing formal institutions and slow-changing informal ones can inhibit effective sociopolitical change. Because of this, the long-term effect of revolutionary political restructuring is often more moderate than the ostensible short-term effect.
Lists of revolutions
- Popovic, Srdja. Blueprint for Revolution: How to use rice pudding, Lego men, and other nonviolent techniques to galvanize communities, overthrow dictators, or simply change the world. Spiegel and Grau, New York, 2015, ISBN 978-0-8129-9530-5
- The International Encyclopedia of Revolution and Protest: 1500 to the Present, ed. by Immanuel Ness, Malden, MA [etc.]: Wiley & Sons, 2009, ISBN 1-4051-8464-7
- Perreau-Sausine, Emile. "Les libéraux face aux révolutions : 1688, 1789, 1917, 1933", Commentaire, Spring 2005, pp. 181–193
- ^ The New Fontana Dictionary of Modern Thought Third Edition (1999), Allan Bullock and Stephen Trombley, Eds. pp. 754–46
- ^ Aristotle, The Politics V. Accessed 2013/4/24
- ^ OED vol Q-R p. 617 1979 Sense III states a usage "Alteration, change, mutation" from 1400 but lists it as "rare". "c. 1450, Lydg 1196 Secrees of Elementys the Revoluciuons, Chaung of tymes and Complexiouns." It's clear that the usage had been established by the early 15th century but only came into common use in the late 17th century in England.
- ^ onlineetymology.com
- ^ Richard Pipes, A Concise History of the Russian Revolution Archived 2011-05-11 at the Wayback Machine
- ^ Roger Boesche, Tocqueville's Road Map: Methodology, Liberalism, Revolution, and Despotism, Lexington Books, 2006, ISBN 0-7391-1665-7, p.86
- ^ (in Polish) J. Topolski, "Rewolucje w dziejach nowożytnych i najnowszych (xvii-xx wiek)", Kwartalnik Historyczny, LXXXIII, 1976, 251-67
- ^ Charles Tilly, European Revolutions, 1492-1992, Blackwell Publishing, 1995, ISBN 0-631-19903-9, Google Print, p.16
- ^ Bernard Lewis Archived 2007-04-29 at the Wayback Machine, "Iran in History", Moshe Dayan Center, Tel Aviv University
- ^ Mark N Katz, Revolutions and Revolutionary Waves, St Martin's Press, 1997, p4
- ^ Mark N Katz, Revolutions and Revolutionary Waves, St Martin's Press, 1997, p13
- ^ Mark N Katz, Revolutions and Revolutionary Waves, St Martin's Press, 1997, p12
- ^ Irving E. Fang, A History of Mass Communication: Six Information Revolutions, Focal Press, 1997, ISBN 0-240-80254-3, p. xv
- ^ Murray, Warwick E. Geographies of Globalization. Routledge, 2006, ISBN 0-415-31800-9. p.226
- ^ a b c d e f Jack Goldstone, Theories of Revolutions: The Third Generation, World Politics 32, 1980:425-53
- ^ John Foran, "Theories of Revolution Revisited: Toward a Fourth Generation", Sociological Theory 11, 1993:1-20
- ^ Clifton B. Kroeber, "Theory and History of Revolution, Journal of World History 7.1, 1996: 21-40
- ^ Goodwin, p.9.
- ^ a b c d e f g h Jack Goldstone, "Towards a Fourth Generation of Revolutionary Theory", Annual Review of Political Science 4, 2001:139-87
- ^ Jeff Goodwin, No Other Way Out: States and Revolutionary Movements, 1945-1991. Cambridge University Press, 2001, p.5
- ^ Crane Brinton, The Anatomy of Revolution, revised ed. (New York, Vintage Books, 1965). First edition, 1938.
- ^ "PolityProject". www.systemicpeace.org. Retrieved 2016-02-17.
- ^ Enterline, A. J. (1998-12-01). "Regime Changes, Neighborhoods, and Interstate Conflict, 1816-1992". Journal of Conflict Resolution. 42 (6): 804–829. doi:10.1177/0022002798042006006. ISSN 0022-0027. S2CID 154877512.
- ^ Maoz, Zeev (1996). Domestic sources of global change. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.
- ^ Mansfield, Edward D.; Snyder, Jack (2007). Electing to Fight: Why Emerging Democracies go to War. MIT Press.
- ^ Colgan, Jeff (2012-09-01). "Measuring Revolution". Conflict Management and Peace Science. 29 (4): 444–467. doi:10.1177/0738894212449093. ISSN 0738-8942. S2CID 220675692.
- ^ "Data - Jeff D Colgan". sites.google.com. Retrieved 2016-02-17.
- ^ Thomassen, Bjorn (2012). "Toward an anthropology of political revolutions" (PDF). Comparative Studies in Society and History. 54 (3): 679–706. doi:10.1017/s0010417512000278.
- ^ North, Douglass C (1992). Transaction costs, institutions, and economic performance. San Francisco: ICS Press. p. 13.
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Last edited on 22 February 2021, at 14:25
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