Lynne Rienner Publishers Logo

Understanding Revolution

Patrick Van Inwegen
Understanding Revolution
ISBN: 978-1-58826-748-1
ISBN: 978-1-58826-775-7
ISBN: 978-1-62637-219-1
2011/289 pages/LC: 2010038599
"An excellent primer.... Highly recommended. All undergraduate, graduate, and research collections."—Choice

"One of the best teaching texts I have seen for undergraduate courses on revolution and political violence."—Michael D. Kanner, University of Colorado


Understanding Revolution concisely, but thoroughly, explains one of the most fundamental sources of political change in the modern world. Designed to be accessible to undergraduate students, the book systematically explores such questions as:

    • What should be defined as a revolution?
    • Is there a "typical" pattern to the course of a revolution?
    • What are the roles of ideologies, structures (e.g., the state, class structures,
       the international system), and individuals in shaping revolutions?
    • What causes groups to mobilize behind revolutionary leaders?
    • What happens after a revolutionary group assumes power, or fails?

The discussion highlights points of agreement and debate within the social science literature, and brief case studies of revolutions and revolutionary movements bring concepts to life.


Patrick Van Inwegen is assistant professor of political science at Whitworth University.


  • Understanding Revolution.
  • The "Life Course" of a Revolution.
  • The Structural Causes of Revolution.
  • The Role of Ideology, Part 1: Liberalism and Nationalism.
  • The Role of Ideology, Part 2: Marxism and Religious Thought.
  • The Sources of Revolutionary Leadership.
  • Mobilizing the Masses.
  • The Outcomes of Revolution.
  • The Study of Revolution.
  • Appendix: Case Studies, 1776-2008.