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Within and beyond the 'fourth generation' of revolutionary theory

Lawson, George (2016) Within and beyond the 'fourth generation' of revolutionary theory. Sociological Theory, 34 (2). pp. 106-127. ISSN 0735-2751

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Identification Number: 10.1177/0735275116649221


Recent years have seen renewed interest in the study of revolutions. Yet the burgeoning interest in revolutionary events has not been matched by a comparable interest in the development of revolutionary theory. For the most part, empirical studies of revolutions remain contained within the parameters established by the ‘fourth generation’ of revolutionary theory. This body of work sees revolutions as conjunctural amalgams of systemic crisis, structural opening, and collective action, which arise from the intersection of international, economic, political, and symbolic factors. Despite the promise of this approach, this article argues that fourth generation scholarship remains an unfulfilled agenda. The aim of this article is to work within – and beyond – fourth generation theory in order to establish the theoretical foundations that can underpin contemporary work on revolutions. It does so in three ways: first, by promoting a shift from an attributional to a processual ontology; second, by advocating a relational rather than substantialist account of social action; and third, by fostering an approach that sees revolutions as inter-societal ‘all the way down’.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2015 SAGE Publications
Divisions: International Relations
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Date Deposited: 07 Oct 2015 09:09
Last Modified: 20 May 2020 03:20

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