World Culture and Revolutions

*** Update:  Colin just told me that the paper was accepted in the time since he sent it to me.  It will be appearing in Social Science History.  Congrats Colin!!!  ***

Colin Beck was kind enough to share his paper on revolutions, which he presented earlier at the Irvine Comparative Sociology Workshop.  The paper makes the argument that global cultural dynamics contributed to waves of revolutions throughout European history.

Here is a link:  Beck World Cultural Origins of Revolutionary Waves.pdf

I think of my work as spanning long periods, but I can’t compete with Colin.  The paper is based on a 500 year time series of data on European revolutions.  The key outcome is the count of “revolutionary situations” per year associated with “waves” (as opposed to wholly isolated ones).  Colin finds that periods of world cultural efflorescence predicts revolutionary situations (as do periods of hegemonic war).

He makes several arguments, centering on the point that cultural efflorescence generates expansive ideologies that are at odds with political realities — creating conflict.  The argument hinges, in part, on the neo-institutional concept of “actorhood”, that modern global culture constructs individuals as political actors, which facilitates greater collective action than one might expect… apparently including revolutions.  For background, check out the Meyer/Jepperson paper in Sociological Theory on “actorhood”, listed in my Institutional Theory Resources page.  Colin also argues that periods of world cultural efflorescence can “fracture elite consensus through the evolution of new ideologies,” creating opportunities for revolution.

Anyhow, download the paper and check it out!


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