William H. Mcneill, Theda Skocpol. New York: Cambridge University Press. Most users should sign in with their email address. If you originally registered with a username please use that to sign in. To purchase short term access, please sign in to your Oxford Academic account above.
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Don't rely on these old notes in lieu of reading the literature, but they can jog your memory. As a grad student long ago, my peers and I collaborated to write and exchange summaries of political science research.
I posted them to a wiki-style website. I cannot vouch for these notes' accuracy, nor can I even say who wrote them. If you have more recent summaries to add to this collection, send them my way I guess. Sorry for the ads; they cover the costs of keeping this online. Skocpol argues that the voluntaristic rational choice theories common in political science miss something important about revolutions: By focusing on how purposive action brings about revolutions, such theories fail to perceive the structural forces that create a revolutionary situation.
To fill in this gap, Skocpol approaches revolutions from a structural perspective. A "social revolution" is both a change in state institutions a political revolution and a change in social structures. The American revolution was only a political revolution, not a social one, since it did little to change social structures. The Chinese revolution, on the other hand, was a social revolution; not only did the state institutions change, but the entire social order changed with it.
A social revolution occurs in two stages which correspond to parts I and II of the book , and in each stage two structural variables determine what happens next. For more details about the four structural variables, see pages In Part I, two variables cause a revolutionary situation.
These two variables are jointly sufficient for a "social revolution" to occur. The key word is "sufficient": This is a deterministic theory. If both structural variables are in place, a revolution should always occur. First, there must be a " crisis of state ," often provoked by international factors, such as increasing economic or security competition from abroad. It is a crisis, not merely a challenge, because this is a challenge that the state cannot meet given its current institutional constraints.
As a result, elites and the army become divided over what to do and loyalty to the regime weakens. This crisis of state creates the revolutionary situation. Second, patterns of class dominance determine which group will rise up to exploit the revolutionary situation.
The result is a social revolution; the patterns of class dominance merely determine who will lead it. In Part II, she considers what the outcome of a revolution will be once it begins. Again, there are two structural variables.
Fist, the " obstacles and opportunities shaped by" the specific form of the crisis from Part I. Second, just as the prior regime was brought down by socioeconomic and international constraints that it couldn't manage, the revolutionary leaders face similar constraints. These socioeconomic and international constraints affect how the revolutionary regime will establish itself and rebuild the state.
The result is the specific revolutionary outcome. She observes that France ended up with liberal capitalism, Russia with a dictatorship, and China with a mass-mobilizing party-state.
The role of the state in the above process should be evident. She criticizes the four earlier approaches to explaining social revolutions see her introduction for a summary of them for focusing too much on the revolutionary classes and groups while ignoring the form of the prior regime.
It is the form of the prior regime its constraints and such that determine whether it will be able to respond to a change in its environment international economic and security competition, also domestic socioeconomic issues.
Thus, the form of the prior regime determines whether a "revolutionary situation" will obtain in the first place. And if no such situation obtains, then it doesn't matter whether Marxist proletarians or Gurr's deprived groups or any other social group wants a revolution. There must first be a revolutionary situation, and only then these social issues specifically, patterns of class dominance can determine who will rebel.
The arguments in this book are not generalizable to other cases due to 1 the unique historical and international circumstances of the nations and 2 world-historical changes in military technologies and in the fundamental structures and bases of state power.
Chapter 7 from part II: this chapter looks at why China's revolution ended with the modern Chinese state--she considered in earlier sections why the revolution happened in the first place.
The basic idea: the Communists were building up in the rural areas while the Nationalists were in the cities. The Japanese occupied the cities and the Nationalists were very weak when they left.
The social-revolutionary situation after The formerly centralized imperial regime disintegrated, and state power devolved to the regional, provincial, and local centers. Similar to France and Russia, opportunities for political participation and initiatives became much more widespread as purportedly representative institutions replaced the emperor.
Local warlords controlled independent military-political groupings which fought with one another over control of resources and territory. In their effort to raise finances for these competitions, warlords over-taxed peasants and merchants.
Unlike the French and Russian Revolutions which began with a complete disorganization of the imperial states followed by the quick undermining of the dominant classes through revolts from below, there was no social revolution in China in In spite of deepening political disintegration and increasing social tensions, local gentry and their warlord allies were able to thwart revolutionary attempts and maintain their power over the peasants.
Two parallel revolutionary political movements emerged out of the collapse of the imperial state. Kuomintang KMT based itself primarily upon urban support and resources.
The Chinese Communist Party CCP depended on their ability to penetrate rural communities, displacing the remnant gentry. Their goals, nonetheless, differed. Rightist-KMT leaders distrusted both leftists and the mass movements. They only wanted a unification of China and nothing more in terms of upsetting the existing social structure. The KMT's failure to consolidate national control was primarily due to the fact that they simply did not have enough resources. China lagged far behind in her industrialization and railroad development.
KMT, furthermore, demonstrated very little capacity or inclination to reorganize village-level politics and enforce socioeconomic reforms. The gentry remained intact. In fact, the KMT regime relinquished to local and provincial rulers the claims to land taxes. Instead it depended entirely on the easy-to-collect urban revenues: excise taxes on consumer necessities, tariffs on international trade, and borrowing through high-interest bonds issued by government-controlled banks.
Lastly, the KMT ceased to recruit popular supporters and lost the decision-making and coordinating functions it had exercised during the period of Soviet tutelage. The peasant-based red army was a "fish swimming in the sea of the people. Peasants could not just be forcibly drafted into professionally led standing armies directed and supplied through urban centers.
They had to be persuaded. CCP used mass-mobilization techniques for drawing rural resources to their armies. After Chiang Kai-shek no longer needed the Soviets and turned to the West for assistance, he eliminated almost all the leftist elements in the KMT. The CCP retreated to the northwest part of China. In the military coup in Xi'an, Chiang was forced to agree to work with the communists to fight with Japanese.
This was CCP's much needed respite from fighting and chance to expand their appeal to the educated Chinese. The Japanese invasion was a disastrous blow to the KMT because the invaders occupied mostly China's important urban centers, which were traditionally KMT's powerhouse. Not enough manpower to penetrate the countryside, the Japanese essentially allowed the CCP to grow in the rural areas.
There are three reasons for China's distinctive outcomes. First, CCP abandoned the Soviet strategy of developing the heavy industry alone. Instead, it wanted to "walk on two legs," which pointed to both industrial and agricultural developments.
Second, international relations and strategic conditions affected the development of CCP regime. Chinese feared the U. China broke with the Soviet Union when she developed her own nuclear weapons. Thirdly, because they already developed a relationship with the peasantry, the CCP had a much easier task to consolidate power and undertake national development.
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States and Social Revolutions: A Comparative Analysis of France, Russia, and China
States and Social Revolutions: A Comparative Analysis of France, Russia and China is a book by political scientist and sociologist Theda Skocpol , published by Cambridge University Press , which explains the causes of revolutions through the structural functionalism sociological paradigm comparative historical analysis of the French Revolution of through the early 19th century, the Russian Revolution of through the s and the Chinese Revolution of through the Cultural Revolution in the s. Skocpol argues that these three cases, despite being spread over a century and a half, are similar in the sense that all three were social revolutions. Skocpol asserts that social revolutions are rapid and basic transformations of a society's state and class structures. She distinguishes this from mere rebellions , which involve a revolt of subordinate classes but may not create structural change, and from political revolutions that may change state structures but not social structures. What is unique about social revolutions, she argues, is that basic changes in social structure and political structure occur in a mutually reinforcing fashion and these changes occur through intense sociopolitical conflict. The book was highly influential in the study of revolutions, and has been credited with ushering in a new paradigm. The book uses both J.
Theda Skocpol , Skocpol Theda. State structures, international forces, and class relations: Theda Skocpol shows how all three combine to explain the origins and accomplishments of social-revolutionary transformations. From France in the s to Vietnam in the s, social revolutions have been rare but undeniably of enormous importance in modern world history. States and Social Revolutions provides a new frame of reference for analyzing the causes, the conflicts, and the outcomes of such revolutions.