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Current Definitions of Revolution

Dale Yoder
American Journal of Sociology
Vol. 32, No. 3 (Nov., 1926), pp. 433-441
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2765544
Page Count: 9
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Current Definitions of Revolution
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Abstract

The term "revolution" is variously defined within and without the social science field. At least three distinct conceptions are discernible. Revolution as a political phenomenon.-Bodin, Small, Adams, Sorokin, Ross, Martin Dewe, Edwards, Webster, the Pauls, and Spargo appear to consider revolution a purely political phenomenon, a change in the location of sovereignty. Revolution as abrupt social change.-Le Bon and Ellwood suggest that the term includes any sudden or apparently sudden social change, so that political revolution is but one of several types. Revolution as change in the entire social order.-A third conception is that of change so drastic as to involve all phases of the social organization. Revolution may be political, but it has also religious, economic, industrial, and other aspects. Hyndman states this conception, and Summer, Parsons, and Finney appear so to use the term. Revolution a change in attitudes.-An explanation of such variation in the current conceptions of revolution appears in the fact that no writer has described revolution in its entirety. When normal social change is, for any reason. obstructed, there develops a widespread unrest which attaches itself to the most obviously offensive aspects of the social structure. The unrest and the collective behavior which often follows represent, to most writers, revolution. The more significant chages have, however, already occurred in the attitudes fundamental to the traditional institutional order.

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