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Theories of Revolution. Barrington Moore. Population Explosion and Technological Revolution c. 1700 Increase Commercial and Modern Industrial Activity c. 1760 Urbanization c. 1775 Emergence of a Middle Class c. 1789: With Accompanying Ideas of: Liberalism, Nationalism and Democracy

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barrington moore

Barrington Moore

Population Explosion and Technological Revolution c. 1700

Increase Commercial and Modern Industrial Activity c. 1760

Urbanization c. 1775

Emergence of a Middle Class c. 1789: With Accompanying Ideas of: Liberalism, Nationalism and Democracy

Emergence of a Working Class (Proletariat) c. 1825: With Accompanying Ideas of Socialism

The Classical Historical Model

crane brinton

Causes of Revolution

Condition 1 – Economy: Societies become prosperous economically before revolution.

Condition 2 – Social Class: People of all social classes feel restless and held down by restrictions in society, religion, the economy or the government. People are hopeful about the future, but they are forced to accept less than they believe they are due. There is a growing bitterness between social classes and the classes closest to one another are the most hostile.

Condition 3 – Intellectuals: Scholars and thinkers give up on the way their society operates and transfer their allegiance to a revolutionary group.

Condition 4 - The government does not respond to the needs of its society. The government cannot organize its finances correctly and is either going bankrupt or trying to tax heavily and unjustly.

Condition 5 – Ruling Class  The leaders of the government and the ruling class begin to doubt themselves.   Some join with the opposition groups.

Crane Brinton

Anatomy of Revolution

crane brinton1

Crane Brinton

Stages of Revolution

Moderates Come to Power

Radicalization of the Revolution – Radicals to Power

Crisis Period/Reign of Terror

Thermidor – Moderates back in power

Subversion of Revolution to Right Wing Authoritarian Figure (Meisel Addendum)

Anatomy of Revolution

chalmers johnson

Chalmers Johnson

Categories of Revolutionary Theories

Actor-oriented Theories

Structural Theories

Conjunction Theories

Process Theories

Revolutionary Change

chalmers johnson1

Chalmers Johnson

Multiple Dysfunction + Intransigent Elite + X Factor = Revolution

Mitigating Factor: Structural Conduciveness

Revolutionary Change

chalmers johnson2

Chalmers Johnson

Types of Revolutions

Jacquerie – spontaneous uprising of the Masses

Millenarian – Elite leading the masses (Unusual of inspirational leader)

Jacobin – Elite leading masses (ideological elite)

Anarchist – Elites leading masses without direction, ideology or replacement of the social system

Coup d’etat – One Elite minority replacing another

Militarized mass insurrection - Elites arming the masses but don’t provide direction

Revolutionary Change

karl marx

Karl Marx

Hegelian Dialectic for the economic and social development

Primitive Communism

Slave Society

Feudal Society



Communism (“The state will wither away”)

The Communist Manifesto

karl marx1

Karl Marx

  • All conflict arises from the class-based struggle to own the means of production.
  • The Bourgeosie would never give up their privileged place as owners of the means of production. Therefore, a revolution followed by a dictatorship of the proletariat will inevitably occur in the most industrialized societies.

The Communist Manifesto

james defronzo

James DeFronzo

Sufficient Conditions for Revolution

Mass Frustration in Society

Dissident Elite

Unifying Motivation

Severe Political Crisis

Permissive or Tolerant World Context

Revolutionary Movements

ted gurr

Ted Gurr

RD – Relative Deprivation

Turmoil – Mass RD

Conspiracy – Mass RD + Elite RD

Revolutionary War

Why Men Rebel

charles tilly

Charles Tilly

  • Revolutionary Situations
  • Environment/Structure –
    • Weak states are more likely to enter these situation
    • Two or more groups compete for control of the state
    • State is unwilling or unable to suppress alternative coalitions
  • 2. Revolutionary Outcomes
    • Elites defect
    • Neutralization of the armed forces

Europe in Revolutions: 1492-1992

theda skocpol

Social Revolutions have both national and international impact.

  • Structural forces create revolutionary situations.
  • Social revolutions (a change in both state institutions and social structures) are carried out by purposive action by class-based revolts from below.
  • Two variables are sufficient to create a Revolutionary Situation (Part I):
    • A Crisis of State which creates a challenge the state cannot meet leading to elites (and/or the army) becoming divided
    • Patterns of class dominance determine which group will rise up to exploit the revolutionary situation and lead it.


States and Social Revolutions

theda skocpol1

Revolutionary Outcomes (Part II) are shaped by:

    • The “obstacles and opportunities “ from Part I
    • The socioeconomic and international constraints affect how the revolutionary regime will establish itself.
      • France – liberal capitalism
      • Russia – socialist dictatorship
      • China – mass mobilizing party-state


States and Social Revolutions

che guevara gabriel bonet

Che Guevara & Gabriel Bonet

Partisan Warfare (war against your enemy)


Psychological Warfare (War against your friends) =

Equals Revolutionary Warfare

Che believes the corruption of capitalism causes the conditions (ie Multiple Dysfunction) for revolution exist everywhere. Therefore in a guerrilla foco, a revolution can be created anywhere.

Guerrilla Foco Theory