INTRODUCTION

John Foran

Is the era of revolution over? Did it end in 1989? And was that such a long time ago, in any case? It doesn't seem to be necessarily over in places like the West Bank and Gaza, Mexico (Chiapas), Algeria or Peru, and may be just around the corner in many other locations (Egypt? Zaire?). The discourse of revolution may be changing; the international loci and foci may be moving (with the demise of the Soviet Union and the consolidation of democracies in Latin America); the actors may be changing (with more women and ethnic minorities active; though, as this volume notes, both have long histories of revolutionary activism)-all of this may be (arguably) true. But revolutions are going to be with us to the end of history, and-pace Francis Fukiyama-that is not in sight.

Only a long historical and wide geographic optic can shed light on the future of revolutions. And that is why we have taken disparate theoretical and disciplinary approaches here as well. Our title indicates our purposes in this volume: to attend to the recent upsurge in the academic study of revolutions by careful attention to theoretical innovation, to identify new and emergent approaches and push them further conceptually and empirically, and to attend to the crossing and blurring of the boundaries of the disciplines. While most of us work as sociologists, we still feel that this is the social science with the most interdisciplinary sweep. Further, a careful study of the literature on revolutions since the mid-1970s cannot fail to note the accomplishments of sociologists and their journals (this is where the action is, and has been for some time, covering wide interdisciplinary ground, as evidenced in this collection). In the less narrow sense a wide range of disciplines are covered in these pages: sociology, history, politics, ethnic studies, gender studies, cultural studies, and demography. The distinct theoretical approaches systematically scrutinized along the way include state-centered perspectives, structural theories, world-system analysis, elite models, demographic theories, and feminism.

Each of the chapters that follow reviews debates in one of these disciplines and/or perspectives, advances an original theory, and does as much empirical analysis of cases as space and expertise permit. It is our feeling that

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Theorizing Revolutions
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Figures and Tables vii
  • Agknowledgements x
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - State-Centered Approaches to Social Revolutions 11
  • 2 - Structural Theories of Revolution 38
  • 3 - Agents of Revolution 73
  • 4 - Population Growth and Revolutionary Crises 102
  • 5 - Revolution in the Real World 123
  • 6 - Gender and Revolutions 137
  • 7 - Race and the Process of the American Revolutions 168
  • 8 - Discourses and Social Forces 203
  • 9 - The Comparative-Historical Sociology of Third World Social Revolutions 227
  • Bibliography 268
  • Index 289
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