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The Social Geography of Rural Revolt at the Beginning of the French Revolution

John Markoff
American Sociological Review
Vol. 50, No. 6 (Dec., 1985), pp. 761-781
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2095503
Page Count: 21
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The Social Geography of Rural Revolt at the Beginning of the French Revolution
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Abstract

The rural uprisings that were critical in the collapse of the Old Regime in 1789 have been intensively studied; the comparative analysis of rural revolt is currently a lively topic in American social science. This paper examines hypotheses on the social contexts likely to foster insurrection through the use of a variety of quantitative indicators. The principal tool is logistic regression. Several predictors of rural upheaval suggest some of the revolt-generating processes and structures: economic integration into the market; the political penetration of local institutions by the central state bureaucracy; conflict over land use; and the strength of local communal organization. Many other explanations are not confirmed: literacy does not generate revolt nor does variation in the level of hardship have the consequences expected in much of the literature. Beyond the specific findings, the rural turbulence of 1789 shows itself to be an amalgam of quite diverse conflicts.

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