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In political science, a revolution (Latin: revolutio, "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:
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-political institutions, usually in response to perceived overwhelming autocracy or plutocracy.
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.
Notable revolutions during later centuries include the creation of the United States through the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), the French Revolution (1789–1799), the Spanish American wars of independence (1808–1826), the European Revolutions of 1848, the Russian Revolution in 1917, the Chinese Revolution of the 1940s, the Cuban Revolution in 1959, and the European Revolutions of 1989.
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.
Alexis de Tocqueville differentiated between;
One of several different Marxist typologiesdivides revolutions into;
Charles Tilly, a modern scholar of revolutions, differentiated between;
Mark Katzidentified six forms of revolution;
These categories are not mutually exclusive; the Russian revolution of 1917 began with urban revolution to depose the Czar, followed by rural revolution, followed by the Bolshevik coup in November. Katz also cross-classified revolutions as follows;
A further dimension to Katz's typologyis 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.
Other types of revolution, created for other typologies, include the social revolutions; proletarian or communist revolutions (inspired by the ideas of Marxism that aims to replace capitalism with Communism); failed or abortive revolutions (revolutions that fail to secure power after temporary victories or large-scale mobilization); or violent vs. nonviolent revolutions.
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, or the Commercial Revolution. Note that such revolutions also fit the "slow revolution" definition of Tocqueville. A similar example is the Digital Revolution.
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.
Jack Goldstone defines a revolution as
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 and history. 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.
Scholars of revolutions, like Jack Goldstone, differentiate four current 'generations' of scholarly research dealing with revolutions.The scholars of the first generation such as Gustave Le Bon, Charles A. Ellwood, or Pitirim Sorokin, were mainly descriptive in their approach, and their explanations of the phenomena of revolutions was usually related to social psychology, such as Le Bon's crowd psychology theory.
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.
Finally, the third group, which included writers such as Charles Tilly, Samuel P. Huntington, Peter Ammann, and Arthur L. Stinchcombe followed the path of political sciences and looked at pluralist theory and interest group conflict theory. Those theories see events as outcomes of a power struggle between competing interest groups. In such a model, revolutions happen when two or more groups cannot come to terms within a normal decision making process traditional for a given political system, and simultaneously have enough resources to employ force in pursuing their goals.
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.
Many such early studies of revolutions tended to concentrate on four classic cases: famous and uncontroversial examples that fit virtually all definitions of revolutions, such as the Glorious Revolution (1688), the French Revolution (1789–1799), the Russian Revolution of 1917, and the Chinese Revolution (also known as the Chinese Civil War) (1927–1949).In his The Anatomy of Revolution, however, the Harvard historian Crane Brinton focused on the English Civil War, the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and the Russian Revolution.
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.
From the late 1980s a new body of scholarly work began questioning the dominance of the third generation's theories. The old theories were also dealt a significant blow by new revolutionary events that could not be easily explain by them. The Iranian and Nicaraguan Revolutions of 1979, the 1986 People Power Revolution in the Philippines and the 1989 Autumn of Nations in Europe saw multi-class coalitions topple seemingly powerful regimes amidst popular demonstrations and mass strikes in nonviolent revolutions.
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.
While revolutions encompass events ranging from the relatively peaceful revolutions that overthrew communist regimes to the violent Islamic revolution in Afghanistan, they exclude coups d'état, civil wars, revolts, and rebellions that make no effort to transform institutions or the justification for authority (such as Józef Piłsudski's May Coup of 1926 or the American Civil War), as well as peaceful transitions to democracy through institutional arrangements such as plebiscites and free elections, as in Spain after the death of Francisco Franco.
In anthropology, a tribe is a human social group. Exact definitions of what constitutes a tribe vary among anthropologists. The concept is often contrasted by anthropologists with other social groups concepts, such as nations, states, and forms of kinship. In some cases, such as Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes of India and Native American tribes of North America, tribes are polities, or sovereign nations, that have retained, or been granted, legal recognition and some degree of autonomy by a national or federal government. This usage can have conflicting definitions from the anthropological definitions.
The Mexican Revolution, also known as the Mexican Civil War, was a major armed struggle, lasting roughly from 1910 to 1920, that transformed Mexican culture and government. Although recent research has focused on local and regional aspects of the Revolution, it was a genuinely national revolution. Its outbreak in 1910 resulted from the failure of the 31-year-long regime of Porfirio Díaz to find a managed solution to the presidential succession. This meant there was a political crisis among competing elites and the opportunity for agrarian insurrection. Wealthy landowner Francisco I. Madero challenged Díaz in the 1910 presidential election, and following the rigged results, revolted under the Plan of San Luis Potosí. Armed conflict ousted Díaz from power; a new election was held in 1911, bringing Madero to the presidency.
Conflict theories are perspectives in sociology and social psychology that emphasize a materialist interpretation of history, dialectical method of analysis, a critical stance toward existing social arrangements, and political program of revolution or, at least, reform. Conflict theories draw attention to power differentials, such as class conflict, and generally contrast historically dominant ideologies. It is therefore a macro-level analysis of society.
Anthony Giddens, Baron Giddens is a British sociologist who is known for his theory of structuration and his holistic view of modern societies. He is considered to be one of the most prominent modern sociologists and the author of at least 34 books, published in at least 29 languages, issuing on average more than one book every year. In 2007, Giddens was listed as the fifth most-referenced author of books in the humanities. He has academic appointments in approximately twenty different universities throughout the world and has received numerous honorary degrees.
Bernard Bailyn is an American historian, author, and academic specializing in U.S. Colonial and Revolutionary-era History. He has been a professor at Harvard University since 1953. Bailyn has won the Pulitzer Prize for History twice. In 1998 the National Endowment for the Humanities selected him for the Jefferson Lecture. He was a recipient of the 2010 National Humanities Medal. He is married to MIT Professor of Management Lotte Bailyn and is the father of Yale astrophysicist Charles Bailyn and Stony Brook Linguist John Bailyn.
Rebellion, uprising, or insurrection is a refusal of obedience or order. It refers to the open resistance against the orders of an established authority.
Comparative politics is a field in political science characterized either by the use of the comparative method or other empirical methods to explore politics within countries. Substantively, this can include questions relating to political institutions, political behavior, conflict, and the causes and consequences of economic development. When applied to specific fields of study, comparative politics may be referred to by other names, such as comparative government.
Barrington Moore Jr. was an American political sociologist, and the son of forester Barrington Moore. He is famous for his Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World (1966), a comparative study of modernization in Britain, France, the United States, China, Japan, Russia, Germany, and India. His many other works include Reflections on the Causes of Human Misery (1972) and an analysis of rebellion, Injustice: the Social Basis of Obedience and Revolt (1978).
Theda Skocpol is an American sociologist and political scientist, who is currently the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology at Harvard University. An influential figure in both disciplines, Skocpol is best known as an advocate of the historical-institutional and comparative approaches, as well as her "state autonomy theory." She has written widely for both popular and academic audiences.
Marxism is a method of socioeconomic analysis that views class relations and social conflict using a materialist interpretation of historical development and takes a dialectical view of social transformation. It originates from the works of 19th-century German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Marxism has developed into many different branches and schools of thought, with the result that there is now no single definitive Marxist theory.
States and Social Revolutions: A Comparative Analysis of France, Russia and China is a 1979 book by political scientist and sociologist Theda Skocpol, published by Cambridge University Press, which explains the causes of revolutions through the structural functionalism sociological paradigm comparative historical analysis of the French Revolution of 1789 through the early 19th century, the Russian Revolution of 1917 through the 1930s and the Chinese Revolution of 1911 through the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s. Skocpol argues that these three cases, despite being spread over a century and a half, are similar in the sense that all three were social revolutions.
Historical institutionalism (HI) is a new institutionalist social science method that uses institutions to find sequences of social, political, economic behavior and change across time. It is a comparative approach to the study of all aspects of human organizations and does so by relying heavily on case studies.
Jack A. Goldstone is an American sociologist, political scientist, and world historian, specializing in studies of social movements, revolutions, political demography, and the 'Rise of the West' in world history. He is an author or editor of 13 books and over 150 research articles. He is recognized as one of the leading authorities on the study of revolutions and long-term social change. His work has made foundational contributions to the fields of cliodynamics, economic history and political demography. He was the first scholar to describe in detail and document the long-term cyclical relationship between global population cycles and cycles of political rebellion and revolution. He was also a core member of the “California school” in world history, which replaced the standard view of a dynamic West and stagnant East with a ‘late divergence’ model in which Eastern and Western civilizations underwent similar political and economic cycles until the 18th century, when Europe achieved the technical breakthroughs of industrialization. He is also one of the founding fathers of the emerging field of political demography, studying the impact of local, regional, and global population trends on international security and national politics.
David Easton was a Canadian-born American political scientist. Easton, who was born in Toronto, Ontario, came to the United States in 1943. From 1947 to 1997, he served as a professor of political science at the University of Chicago.
The Political Instability Task Force (PITF), formerly known as State Failure Task Force, is a U.S. government-sponsored research project to build a database on major domestic political conflicts leading to state failures. The study analyzed factors to denote the effectiveness of state institutions, population well-being, and found that partial democracies with low involvement in international trade and with high infant mortality are most prone to revolutions. One of the members of the task force resigned on January 20, 2017 in protest of the Trump administration.
A coup d'état, also known by its German name putsch, or simply as a coup, is the overthrow of an existing government by non-democratic means; typically, it is an illegal, unconstitutional seizure of power by a dictator, the military, or a political faction.
Revolution from Above: Military Bureaucrats and Development in Japan, Turkey, Egypt, and Peru is a sociological book written by Ellen Kay Trimberger, published in 1978 by Transaction Books. Trimberger outlines several criteria for what she calls "revolution from above" and attempts to explicate this social phenomenon's emergence developed through a comparative historical analysis. Most of the book is dedicated to explaining the Meiji Restoration in Japan and the Turkish War of Independence. The theory is then extended to include the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 and Peru's 1968 coup led by Velasco. Trimberger's contribution is significant with regard to sociological theories of the state significant insofar as it departs from the Marxist conception of the state as merely a political superstructure built on an economic base.
Anocracy is a form of government loosely defined as part democracy and part dictatorship, or as a "regime that mixes democratic with autocratic features". Another definition classifies anocracy as "a regime that permits some means of participation through opposition group behavior but that has incomplete development of mechanisms to redress grievances". Scholars have also distinguished anocracies from autocracies and democracies in their capability to maintain authority, political dynamics, and policy agendas. Similarly, these regime types have democratic institutions that allow for nominal amounts of competition.
Social revolutions are sudden changes in the structure and nature of society. These revolutions are usually recognized as having transformed in society, culture, philosophy, and technology much more than political systems.
A revolutionary wave or revolutionary decade is a series of revolutions occurring in various locations within a similar time span. In many cases, past revolutions and revolutionary waves have inspired current ones, or an initial revolution has inspired other concurrent "affiliate revolutions" with similar aims. The causes of revolutionary waves have been studied by historians and political philosophers, including Robert Roswell Palmer, Crane Brinton, Hannah Arendt, Eric Hoffer, and Jacques Godechot.
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