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Elsevier Ltd
DOI: 10.1016/b0-08-043076-7/01232-8
  • Economics
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Social Sciences


In the 150 years since the Communist Manifesto, revolution has mainly occurred not in the heart of industrial capitalism, but in countries at the periphery, with significant peasant participation. Theories of revolution in the twentieth century evolved from descriptive ‘natural cycles’ of revolution, to explanations emphasizing social-psychological factors, to structuralist theories, adding state and international structures to Marxian class analysis of history. Fourth-generation theories re-emphasize agency, drawing on cultural studies to examine ideological frameworks and subjective motivations of actors. The end of the Cold War contributed to new interest in a broader conception of the revolutionary potential within civil society, including the mainly nonviolent ‘people's power’ social movements that toppled Communist Party states in Eastern Europe and dictatorship in the Philippines; the ‘negotiated revolutions’ in Central America that opened space for political democratization; the Zapatista challenge to Mexican civil society; and resistance against globalization, suggesting the intriguing prospect of an emerging global civil society.

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