A fifth generation of revolution theory?

Jamie Allinson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The study of revolution in historical sociology is conventionally divided into four ‘generations’ of scholarship, with the fourth associated with an agency-focused approach that departed from an immanent critique of the structuralism they saw in the third. However, the resurgence of revolution in the early 21st century led to the criticism that even the fourth generation had failed sufficiently to overcome its structuralist limitations. This essay identifies a hitherto unacknowledged ‘fifth’ generation, exemplified in the three works under review, and distinguished by its move away from an object of study conceived as violent social transformation towards non-violent change of political regime. This focus on revolutions with many friends and few enemies entailed a convergence with democratization and social movement theory, and the post-Cold War dominance of the United States as global context. That liberal moment now having passed, revolutions have again become far more divisive and class-based affairs even if they do not propose a programme of profound social transformation, as witnessed in the aftermath of the ‘Arab Spring.’
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-151
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Historical Sociology
Issue number1
Early online date10 Mar 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Mar 2019


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