Samuel Phillips Huntington

After reading Chapter 9, I became more aware of what revolutions really were. Political scientist Samuel P. Huntington described a revolution s “a rapid, fundamental, and violent domestic change in the dominant values and myths of a society, in its political institutions, social structure, leadership, and government activities and policies” (p. 186). This definition from Huntington goes hand in hand with what I read in powerpoint 13B. t didn’t take me long to find out something new about revolutions. I didn’t know that people use the word revolution as a metaphor for important cultural trends. I just thought revolution was used to describe a movement that was trying to change society. Along with not knowing how the use of the word revolution varied, I also didn’t know that there were so many theories associated with them either. First, there’s the concept of studying the natural histories of revolutions.

In doing this sociologists found commonalities: the desertion of intellectuals, attempted reforms, a political crisis, a period of dual rule dominated by moderates, the triumph of the radicals, a reign of terror, and moderation and pragmatism. Second, the theories of rebellion and violence are discussed. They are used to try and understand the causes of revolutions and its connection to the process of modernization. These theories include: relative deprivation, system equilibrium, and resource mobilization. Finally, there were the structural theories of revolutions. These theories describe why a revolution succeeds.

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The idea comes from Theda Skocpol, who says, “a social revolution succeeds because the state has been weakened by a variety of simultaneously occurring external and internal pressures that it is unable to contain and manage” (p. 192). These external and internal pressures include: international competition and conflict with other states; disaffection and obstruction of state policies by important social elites that control important material and ideological support for the regime; insufficient loyalty of the military and state police; and pressure from a variety of popular uprisings.

The reason I liked this chapter is because instead of other books that discuss revolutions as a whole, the authors decided to break it down and go step by step. They make sure you know how a revolution is built from the ground up. They also explain very well the different types of theories that are used to talk about and describe these revolutions.