Ideology & Popular Protest

Ideology & Popular Protest

Ideology & Popular Protest

Ideology & Popular Protest


In this Pathbreaking Work Originally Published in 1980, George Rude Examines the Role Played by Ideology in a Wide Range of Popular Rebellions in Europe and the Americas from the Middle Ages to the Early Twentieth Century. Rude was a Champion of the Role of Working People in the Making of History, and Ideology and Popular Protest was the First Book Devoted to the Comparative Study of Popular Political Ideas and Consciousness in Both Preindustrial Cultures and the Age of the Industrial Revolution. According to Rude, the Development of Modern Revolutionary Struggles Depended on a Crucial Merger of the Culture and Ideas of the Common People with the Radical Ideologies of Intellectuals. In a New Foreword, Harvey Kaye Reviews Rude's Career as a Pioneer in the Critical Study of Social Movements and Highlights the Enduring Value of Ideology and Popular Protest as a Classroom Text.


The purpose of this introduction is to attempt to explain to the reader, as briefly as I can, what led me to write this book and why it has taken the form that it has.

In my earlier work, I have often been concerned with establishing the identity (or 'faces') of the common people in history that have taken part in demonstrations, riots and revolutions occurring mainly in a 'pre-industrial society' -- that is, at a time when today's industrial society' with its major division into employers and workers, capitalists and proletarians, was still in the process of formation. So, initially, I was largely concerned with the question 'who' which I felt had been inadequately considered by earlier writers of history or social science. And from this initial concern there inevitably developed the further question why did people act as they did, what prompted them to riot or rebel, what were the motives that impelled them? This concern with motivation led me further to attempt to distinguish between the long and the short term and to draw a dividing line between 'social-economic' and 'political' factors and to attempt to explain how the two became related and merged in such movements as that of the sans-culottes in the French Revolution or of the Londoners that shouted for Wilkes and burned down Roman Catholic chapels and schools in the riots of the 1760s to 1780.

But, as I have come to realize, the study of motives -- even when some attention is paid to such elusive concepts as N.J. Smelser's 'generalized beliefs' -- is an unsatisfactory one in itself, as it tends to present the problem in a piecemeal fashion and fails to do justice to the full range of ideas or beliefs that underlie social and political action, whether of old-style rulers, 'rising' bourgeois or of 'inferior' social groups.

This underlying body of ideas is what I here term the 'ideology of protest' (whether popular or other). Some will find such a definition far too woolly and wide-ranging and may -- if they should chance to read the book -- accuse me of using a . . .

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