Edited by Christopher J. Coyne and Rachel L. Mathers
Chapter 11: Political Economy of Third World Revolutions
Misagh Parsa 11.1 INTRODUCTION Social theorists define revolutions in two alternative ways. Some analysts provide a political definition of revolution characterized by the forcible transfer of state power. Charles Tilly (2006, p. 159) defines revolution as forcible transfer of power in the course of a struggle involving at least two distinct blocs of contenders that make incompatible claims to control the state with some significant segments of the population supporting the claims of the rival contenders. Other theorists define revolutions in terms of broader economic and political outcomes. Theda Skocpol (Skocpol 1979, p. 4) is interested in social revolutions, that is, alterations in both the political and economic structures of society. Skocpol’s definition requires a rapid, basic transformation of state and class structures that are carried out in part through class-based revolts from below. Jeffery Paige even went further and defined revolution as “a rapid and fundamental transformation in the categories of social life and consciousness, the metaphysical assumptions on which these categories are based, and the power relations in which they are expressed as a result of widespread popular acceptance of a utopian alternative to the current social order” (Paige 2003, p. 24). Though rare phenomena, social revolutions have produced the most fundamental changes in the modern world and social life. Although several generations of social scientists have attempted to explain the causes, processes and outcomes of revolutions (Goldstone 1980), no general theoretical consensus has emerged. In a recent work, Charles Tilly argued that it was not possible to...
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