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Trajectories of Institutional Disintegration in Late-Soviet Russia and Contemporary Iraq

Marc Garcelon
Sociological Theory
Vol. 24, No. 3 (Sep., 2006), pp. 255-283
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25046723
Page Count: 29
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Trajectories of Institutional Disintegration in Late-Soviet Russia and Contemporary Iraq
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Abstract

How might revolutions and other processes of institutional disintegration inform political processes preceding them? By mapping paths of agency through processes of institutional disintegration, the trajectory improvisation model of institutional breakdown overcomes "action-structure" binaries by framing political revolutions as possible outcomes of such disintegrative processes. The trajectory improvisation approach expands the trajectory adjustment model of social change developed by Gil Eyal, Iván Szelényi, and Eleanor Townsley. An overview of political revolution in Soviet Russia between 1989 and 1991 illustrates trajectory improvisation. The recent American invasion and occupation of Iraq shows alternative routes to institutional disintegration, indicating the independence of models of institutional breakdown from those of social movements. These cases illustrate both the diversity of situations the trajectory improvisation model speaks to, and the limitation of models of trajectory adjustment, improvisation, social movements, and invasions, illustrating why such models at best enable what are called "explanatory narratives" of actual historical processes.

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