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Protest and revolution, stages in

Paul Rubinson

Subject History
Social Movements » Collective Behaviour

Place World

Key-Topics movements, political theory, revolution

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.01222.x


Amid the passionate throes of a revolution, it may not appear to a revolutionary that he or she passed through a distinct set of stages in order to arrive at this moment. Indeed, a systematic analysis of stages and struggles leading to protest and revolution threatens to rob the events of their romantic appeal. Thus only relatively recently -as compared to the long history of protest and revolution – have scholars attempted to outline a coherent process that protests and revolutions go through. The first scholars to investigate collective action theorized that a mere accumulation of sufficient grievances would spur protest, thus oversimplifying the arduous process of collective action. Those closer to the ground, on the other hand, have long recognized that – even for the most moderate change – letting grievances naturally take their course rarely, if ever, works. In the late twentieth century, scholars began to treat protest and revolutions as more sophisticated events. Many scholars (most notably Piven & Cloward 1979 ) have recognized that disruptive protest is frequently a last resort at creating social change, while revolution is an even rarer and exceedingly difficult method of collective action. Still, protests and revolutions succeed just often enough to prove their feasibility. Since revolutions are difficult to achieve, it stands to reason that their success depends ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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