A Loose Overview and Practical Interpretation of John Foran’s Thesis on the Causal Factors Behind Revolutions



In his book, Taking Power, On the Origins of Third World Revolutions (2005, Cambridge University Press), sociologist John Foran calculates a series of causal factors behind the development and success of revolutions.

According to Foran, the necessary ingredients for nearly all revolutions in the 20th century have been:

  • Dependent development.

  • Exclusionary or colonial rule, or democratic polities. 

  • Political cultures of opposition.

  • An economic downturn.

  • A world-system opening.

  • A revolutionary outbreak which encompasses a multi-class, -national, -gender coalition.

Additionally, as part of the outcome of revolutionary movements, successful revolutions are those which develop under the guidance and protection of a centralized and organized force in the form of a post-revolutionary state. Also, despite the initial success of a revolution, features of dependent development never go away quickly and internal forms of oppression may reappear.

What this means:

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