Charles Tilly

Charles Tilly (May 27, 1929 – April 29, 2008[1]) was an American sociologist, political scientist, and historian who wrote on the relationship between politics and society. He was professor of history, sociology, and social science at the University of Michigan 1969–1984 and in his last position the Joseph L. Buttenwieser Professor of Social Science at Columbia University. He has been described as "the founding father of 21st-century sociology"[1] and "one of the world's preeminent sociologists and historians" as his "scholarship was unsurpassed, his humanity of the highest order, his spirit unwavering."[2] After his death, numerous special journal issues, conferences, awards and obituaries appeared in his honor.[3]

Charles Tilly
Charles Tilly.jpg.png
BornMay 27, 1929
DiedApril 29, 2008 (aged 78)
Alma mater
Spouse(s)Louise A. Tilly
ChildrenChris, Kit, Laura, Sarah
Scientific career
FieldsSocial Science
Political Science
InstitutionsUniversity of Delaware
Harvard University
University of Toronto
University of Michigan
The New School
Columbia University
Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy
Academic advisorsBarrington Moore Jr.
Doctoral studentsBarry Wellman

Personal life and education

Tilly was born in Lombard, Illinois (near Chicago). He graduated from Harvard University in 1950 with a Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude. He served in the US Navy as a paymaster of an amphibious squadron during the Korean War. Tilly completed his Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology at Harvard in 1958.[4]

While at Harvard, he was a student in the Department of Social Relations during the "Harvard revolution" in social network analysis.[5][6] According to Dr. Victor Lee Burke, one of Tilly's graduate students at the University of Michigan, Tilly stated that he was a teaching assistant to Pitirim Sorokin, who along with Talcott Parsons and George C. Homans was considered by many in the profession to be among the world's leading sociologists. According to Tilly, Sorokin was known to call him up in the wee small hours of the morning and say in a distinct Russian accent, "Mr. Tilly you have to teach my class today" and then hang up, leaving Tilly in a panic. Tilly dutifully taught the class without the slightest idea of what Sorokin intended for the day. Tilly also planned to have Sorokin chair his dissertation but every time Sorokin heard Tilly's ideas he would say something like "Very interesting Mr. Tilly but I do think Plato said it better."[7] Tilly failed his preliminary examination at Harvard because he forgot what time it was and never showed up. He eventually turned to Barrington Moore and George Homans to supervise his dissertation, but Tilly never failed to say that Pitirim Alexandrovich Sorokin was a great person even though Tilly eschewed any great person theory of history. Although Tilly rejected exchange theory, he considered Homans, one of exchange theory's creators, to be among the best writers in the history of sociology and he mentioned to the audience at the American Sociological Association where he accepted his Distinguished Scholarship Award (he always called it the Sorokin Award to his students its original name) that he wished that George Homans were alive so he could thank him.

Charles Tilly died in the Bronx on April 29, 2008, from lymphoma.[1] As he was fading in the hospital, he got one characteristic sentence out to early student Barry Wellman: "It's a complex situation."[8] In a statement after Tilly's death, Columbia University president Lee C. Bollinger stated that Tilly "literally wrote the book on the contentious dynamics and the ethnographic foundations of political history".[9] Adam Ashforth of The University of Michigan described Tilly as "the founding father of 21st-century sociology".[1]

Charles Tilly was brother to Richard H. Tilly and the longtime husband of Louise A. Tilly although they were separated at the time of Charles' death. Both are distinguished historians.

Academic career

Charles Tilly taught at the University of Delaware, Harvard University, the University of Toronto, the University of Michigan, The New School, and Columbia University. At Michigan, Tilly was professor of history 1969–1984, professor of sociology 1969–1981, and the Theodore M. Newcomb Professor of Social Science 1981–1984. At Columbia, he was the Joseph L. Buttenwieser Professor of Social Science, and along with Harrison White, Tilly played a key role in the emergence of the New York School of relational sociology. Over the course of his career, Tilly wrote more than 600 articles and 51 books and monographs.[9]

He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the Sociological Research Association and the Ordre des Palmes Academiques.[10]

Academic work

Tilly's academic work covered multiple topics in the social sciences and influenced scholarship in disciplines outside of sociology, including history and political science. He is considered a major figure in the development of historical sociology, the early use of quantitative methods in historical analysis, the methodology of event cataloging, the turn towards relational and social-network modes of inquiry, the development of process- and mechanism-based analysis, as well as the study of: contentious politics, social movements, the history of labor, state formation, revolutions, democratization, inequality, and urban sociology.

State formation

Examining political, social, and technological change in Europe from the Middle Ages to the present, Tilly attempted to explain the unprecedented success of the nation-state as the dominant polity-type on Earth in his 1990 book Coercion, Capital, and European States.[11]

Tilly focused his attention on Europe after the decline of the Roman Empire. During this period, state organization was mostly informal and the work of local lords who controlled relatively small areas. Peasants gave up revenue in order to benefit from the security and protection offered by a powerful local lord. Over time, these feudal lands consolidated and required bigger armies in order to offer protection from both internal and external threats. Larger armies proved more effective and subsequently, more money was needed to pay these armies. Feudal lands continued to develop and combine into larger kingdoms ruled by kings. Kings then demanded money in the form of taxes. To impose these taxes, they required a protocol for counting and enforcing collections, so they set up formal state institutions.

Tilly argues that states carry out the following four activities:

  1. war making: The act of eliminating rivals or potential external threats outside of its own territories.
  2. state making: The act of eliminating internal rival forces and insurgents from within its own territories.
  3. protection: The act of eliminating potential threats to their population.
  4. extraction: The act of securing the means to execute the previous three activities, such as the collection of taxes or revenue.

These four activities can take on a number of forms, and Tilly was interested in examining these activities through the lens of organized violence, claiming that these activities are analogous to protection rackets carried out by organized criminal organizations. This comprises a predatory theory of state-building.

Contentious politics

In opposition to individualistic, dispositional analyses of contentious politics, Tilly's work emphasizes how dynamics of social protest are tied to their political, social and economic context. Where previous studies of collective violence had argued their atypical nature, Tilly amassed a battery of evidence to show that they typically arise from the organization of normally non-violent political contentions.

Tilly's work has had considerable influence on the study of social movements. Ironically, Charles Tilly was initially reluctant to tackle social movements. "I avoided writing about social movements for about twenty years because I felt that the term had become swollen and imprecise," he said in a 2007 interview. "The phenomenon of the social movement looked to me like a historically specific form of politics parallel to the electoral campaign and the collective seizure of food, not a universal category of human action."[12]

The notion of locating the birth of the social movement in a specific time and place occurred to Tilly while he was writing his pathbreaking work on the transformation of British popular politics, Popular Contention in Great Britain, 1758–1834.[13] In the process of collating and analyzing the 8,088 contentious gatherings (CGs) that form the basis of the book, Tilly noticed that one momentous change in how ordinary people made collective claims on public authorities turned out to be the invention of what we now call the social movement. "I couldn't help seeing that in Britain, at least, social movements didn't exist in the mid-18th century but had become a dominant form of popular politics by the 1830s. That started me writing about the history of social movements, first in Western Europe, then finally across the world as a whole."[12]

Instead of defining all forms of social protest as social movements, Tilly uses a narrower definition. Conceptually, he argues that social movements share some elements with other forms of political contention such as coups, electoral campaigns, strikes, revolutions, and interest-group politics, but have their own distinct characteristics. He argues that the social movement developed in the West after 1750 and spread throughout the world through colonialism, trade and migration. Local populations are more likely to experiment with the social movement with democratization, and when successful, are more likely to incorporate it into their political struggles.

Tilly argues that social movements combine:

  1. A sustained, organized public effort making collective claims on target audiences: let us call it a campaign;
  2. Employment of combinations from among the following forms of political action: creation of special purpose associations and coalitions, public meetings, solemn processions, vigils, rallies, demonstrations, petition drives, statements to and in public media, and pamphleteering; call the variable ensemble of performances the social-movement repertoire. and
  3. Participants' concerted public representations of worthiness, unity, numbers and commitment (WUNC) on the part of themselves and/or their constituencies: call them WUNC displays.[14] A campaign always links at least three parties: a group of claimants, some object(s) of claims, and a public of some kind. Social movement repertoires are the context-specific, standard operating procedures of social movements, such as: public meetings, solemn processions, vigils, rallies, special-purpose associations and coalitions, demonstrations, petition drives, and pamphleteering. As for WUNC displays, Tilly writes, "The term WUNC sounds odd, but it represents something quite familiar."[15] Social movements' displays of worthiness may include sober demeanor and the presence of clergy and mothers with children; unity is signaled by matching banners, singing and chanting; numbers are broadcast via signatures on petitions and filling streets; and commitment is advertised by braving bad weather, ostentatious sacrifice, and/or visible participation by the old and handicapped. WUNC matters because it conveys crucial political messages to a social movement's targets and the relevant public.

Tilly distinguishes between three sorts of claims advanced by social movements:

  1. Identity claims declare that "we"—the claimants—constitute a unified force to be reckoned with. Such claims commonly include a name for "us," such as "Cherokees," "Diamond Cutters," or "Citizens United against X."
  2. Standing claims assert ties and similarities to other political actors, for example as excluded minorities, established traders, properly constituted citizens' groups, or loyal supporters of the regime.
  3. Program claims involve stated support for or opposition to actual or proposed actions by the objects of movement claims. The relative salience of identity, standing, and program claims varies significantly among social movements, among claimants within movements, and among phases of movements.[16] Tilly locates the origin of social movement repertoires in the national regime within which they operate. Defining regimes as the degree of governmental capacity and democracy within a given polity, Tilly argues that contentious repertoires are shaped by regimes in three ways: regimes control claim-making repertoires—determining zones of prescribed, tolerated, and forbidden repertoires; regimes constitute potential claimants and potential objects of claims; and regimes produce streams of issues, events, and governmental actions around which social movements rise and fall.[17]

Tilly also argues that there exists a complex relationship between social movements and democratization. Democratization promotes the formation of social movements, but by no means do all social movements advocate or promote democracy. The distinction is crucial. Tilly cautioned against the illusion that social movements themselves promote democracy by analytically separating movement claims from movement consequences. A pro-democracy movement may lead to anti-democratic consequences, he argued; an example would be anarchists ultimately promoting the fragmentation of democracy-seeking coalitions. Conversely, an anti-democracy movement may promote democratic outcomes by stimulating democratic counter-action by other citizens or self-serving countermeasures by public officials; an example would be unsuccessful anti-immigrant movements.

However, democratization always promotes the formation of social movements because each of its elements contributes to social movement activity. Democratization's formation of more regular and categorical relations between governments and subjects renders the making of rights-based claims feasible, visible, and attractive. The broadening of rights and obligations within public politics promotes participation in campaigns, social movement performances, and WUNC displays. The equalization of rights and obligations within public politics strengthens cross-category coalitions and the assertion of new identities. And increases in binding consultation of subjects with regard to government policy hold out the prospect of movements acquiring some say in governmental decision making.

In sum, social movements thrive on the secure rights of assembly, association, and collective voice granted by democracy.

Urban sociology

In the 1960s and 1970s, Tilly studied migration to cities, and was an influential theorist about urban phenomena and treating communities as social networks.[8] In 1968 Tilly presented his report on European collective violence to the Eisenhower Commission, a body formed under the Johnson administration to assess urban unrest amidst the Civil Rights Movement. The report was included in Vol. 1 of Violence in America, a collection edited by scholars on the staff of the commission.[18] As informed by his studies of contentious politics in 19th-century Europe, and the present violence in the U.S., his interest in cities and communities became closely linked with his passion for the study of both social movements and collective violence.[19]


Tilly received several awards including the Common Wealth Award in sociology in 1982, the Amalfi Prize for Sociology and Social Sciences in 1994, the Eastern Sociological Society's Merit Award for Distinguished Scholarship in 1996, the American Sociological Association's Career of Distinguished Scholarship Award in 2005, the International Political Science Association's Karl Deutsch Award in Comparative Politics in 2006, the Phi Beta Kappa Sidney Hook Memorial Award in 2006 and the Social Science Research Council's Albert O. Hirschman Award in 2008. He also received honorary doctorates from Erasmus University of Rotterdam in 1983, the Institut d'Etudes Politiques of University of Paris in 1993, the University of Toronto in 1995, the University of Strasbourg in 1996, the University of Geneva in 1999, the University of Crete in 2002, the University of Quebec at Montreal in 2004 and the University of Michigan in 2007.[10] In 2001, Columbia's sociology graduate students named Tilly the Professor of the Year.

After his passing, the Social Science Research Council hosted a 2008 conference, co-sponsored with Columbia University and the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy, in his honor: "A Celebration of the Life and Works of Charles Tilly"[20][21] At this conference the SSRC announced the Charles Tilly and Louise Tilly Fund for Social Science History.[22] The conference had presentations from notable sociologists including: Craig Calhoun, Harrison White, Doug McAdam, Immanuel Wallerstein, William Sewell, Jack Goldstone, Sidney Tarrow, Barry Wellman and Viviana Zelizer.

A 2010 special issue of Social Science History was dedicated to (the work of) Charles Tilly,[23] as was a 2010 special issue of The American Sociologist.[24] The latter was edited by Andreas Koller, and included contributions by George Steinmetz, Neil Gross, Jack A. Goldstone, Kim Voss, Rogers Brubaker, Mustafa Emirbayer, and Viviana Zelizer. In 2010, the journal Theory and Society also published a special issue on "Cities, States, Trust, and Rule" dedicated to the work of Tilly.[25]

See also

Partial bibliography

  • The Vendée: A Sociological Analysis of the Counter-revolution of 1793. (1964)
  • "Collective Violence in European Perspective." Pp. 4–45 in Violence in America: Historical and Comparative Perspectives. A report to the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence. Volume 1. Eds. Hugh Davis Graham and Ted Robert Gurr. (1969)
  • "Clio and Minerva." Pp. 433–66 in Theoretical Sociology, eds. John McKinney and Edward Tiryakian. (1970)
  • "Do Communities Act?" Sociological Inquiry 43: 209–40. (1973)
  • An Urban World. (ed.) (1974).
  • The Formation of National States in Western Europe (ed.) (1975)
  • From Mobilization to Revolution (1978)
  • As Sociology Meets History (1981)
  • Big Structures, Large Processes, Huge Comparisons (1984)
  • War Making and State Making as Organized Crime, In Bringing the State Back In, edited by Peter Evans, et al., 169–87. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1985, PDF Online
  • The Contentious French (1986)
  • Coercion, Capital, and European States, AD 990–1990 (1990)
  • Coercion, Capital, and European States, AD 990–1992 (1992)
  • European Revolutions, 1492–1992 (1993)
  • Cities and the Rise of States in Europe, A.D. 1000 to 1800 (1994)
  • Popular Contention in Great Britain, 1758–1834 (1995)
  • Roads from Past to Future (1997)
  • Work Under Capitalism (with Chris Tilly, 1998)
  • Durable Inequality (1998)
  • Transforming Post-Communist Political Economies (1998)
  • Dynamics of Contention (with Doug McAdam and Sidney Tarrow) (2001)
  • The Politics of Collective Violence (2003)
  • Contention & Democracy in Europe, 1650–2000 (2004)
  • Social Movements, 1768–2004 (2004)
  • From Contentions to Democracy (2005)
  • Identities, Boundaries, and Social Ties (2005)
  • Trust and Rule (2005)
  • Why? (2006)
  • Oxford Handbook of Contextual Political Analysis (2006)
  • Contentious Politics (with Sidney Tarrow) (2006)
  • Regimes and Repertoires (2006)
  • Democracy (2007)
  • Credit and Blame (2008)
  • Contentious Performances (2008)
  • Social Movements, 1768–2008, 2nd edition (with Lesley Wood, 2009)


  1. ^ a b c d Martin, Douglas (May 2, 2008). "Charles Tilly, 78, Writer and a Social Scientist, Is Dead". New York Times. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  2. ^ "Paid Notice: Deaths – Tilly, Charles". Retrieved June 23, 2015.
  3. ^ "Tributes to Charles Tilly -- Memorials to Credit & Blame » Annotated Links to Charles Tilly Resources". Retrieved June 23, 2015.
  4. ^ Martin, Douglas. "Charles Tilly, 78, Writer and a Social Scientist, Is Dead". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
  5. ^ "Institute of Latin American Studies at Columbia University - ILAS Tribute - Charles Tilly". Archived from the original on 2014-07-26. Retrieved June 23, 2015.
  6. ^ Derman, J. (2012). Max Weber in Politics and Social Thought: From Charisma to Canonization. Cambridge University Press. p. 225. ISBN 9781139577076. Retrieved June 23, 2015.
  7. ^ as recounted in his Big Structures, Large Systems, Huge Comparisons
  8. ^ a b Barry Wellman (May 1, 2008). "Chuck Tilly, the urbanist". SOCNET Archives. Retrieved June 22, 2014.
  9. ^ a b Bollinger, Lee C. (April 29, 2008). "President Bollinger's Statement on the Passing of Professor Charles Tilly". Columbia University. Retrieved June 22, 2014.
  10. ^ a b ISERP. "Charles Tilly Remembered". Archived from the original on October 5, 2008. (Archived 29 April 2008 press release from ISERP, Columbia University.)
  11. ^ Tilly, Charles (1990). Coercion, Capital, and European States, AD 990–1990. Cambridge, Mass., USA: B. Blackwell. ISBN 978-1-55786-368-3.
  12. ^ a b Charles Tilly Interview, BlauExchange, retrieved on September 28, 2012
  13. ^ Tilly, Charles (2004). Social Movements, 1768–2004. Boulder, Colorado, USA: Paradigm Publishers. p. 53. ISBN 978-1-59451-043-4.
  14. ^ Tilly, Charles (2004). Social Movements, 1768–2004. Boulder, Colorado, USA: Paradigm Publishers. p. 54. ISBN 978-1-59451-043-4.
  15. ^ Tilly, Charles (2004). Social Movements, 1768–2004. Boulder, Colorado, USA: Paradigm Publishers. p. 184. ISBN 978-1-59451-043-4.
  16. ^ Tilly, Charles (2006-09-15). Regimes and Repertoires. University Of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-80350-0.
  17. ^ Tilly, Charles. 1969. "Collective Violence in European Perspective." Pp. 4–45 in Violence in America, edited by Hugh Graham and Tedd Gurr. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office
  18. ^ Tilly, Charles. 1988. "Misreading, then Rereading, Nineteenth-Century Social Change." Pp. 332–58 in Social Structures: A Network Approach, edited by Barry Wellman and SD Berkowitz. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  19. ^ "SSRC » Albert O. Hirschman Prize » Award Ceremonies". Retrieved June 23, 2015.
  20. ^ "Contention, Change, and Explanation: A Conference in Honor of Charles Tilly". Retrieved June 23, 2015.
  21. ^ "Tilly Fund for Social Science History — Fellowships & Grants — Social Science Research Council". Archived from the original on July 25, 2014. Retrieved June 23, 2015.
  22. ^ Social Science History Volume 34, Number 3, Fall 2010
  23. ^ The American Sociologist. 41 (4). December 2010. JSTOR i40044197. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  24. ^ "Theory and Society, Volume 39, Issue 3 - Springer". Retrieved June 23, 2015.

Further reading

  • Gentile, Antonina, and Sidney Tarrow. "Charles Tilly, globalization, and labor's citizen rights." European Political Science Review 1#3 (2009): 465-493.
  • Hunt, Lynn. "Charles Tilly's Collective Action." in Theda Skocpol and Daniel Chirot, eds. Vision and method in historical sociology (1984): 244+.
  • Kaspersen, Lars Bo and Jeppe Strandsbjerg (eds.). Does War Make States? Investigations of Charles Tilly's Historical Sociology New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017.
  • Krinsky, John, and Ann Mische. "Formations and formalisms: Charles Tilly and the paradox of the actor." Annual Review of Sociology 39 (2013): 1-26.
  • Tarrow, Sidney. "The people's two rhythms: Charles Tilly and the study of contentious politics. A review article." Comparative Studies in society and History 38#3 (1996): 586-600.

External links

Charles Tilly Award for Best Book

The Charles Tilly Award for Best Book is given by the Collective Behavior and Social Movements section of the American Sociological Association in recognition of a significant contribution to the field. Nominees of the award are regarded as being representative of the "best new books in the field of social movements." The award was established in 1986 and is named after sociologist Charles Tilly.

Comparative history

Comparative history is the comparison of different societies which existed during the same time period or shared similar cultural conditions.

The comparative history of societies emerged as an important specialty among intellectuals in the Enlightenment in the 18th century, as typified by Montesquieu, Voltaire, Adam Smith, and others. Sociologists and economists in the 19th century often explored comparative history, as exemplified by Alexis de Tocqueville, Karl Marx, and Max Weber.In the first half of the 20th century, a large reading public followed the comparative histories of (German) Oswald Spengler, (Russian-American) Pitirim Sorokin, and (British) Arnold J. Toynbee. Since the 1950s, however, comparative history has faded from the public view, and is now the domain of specialized scholars working independently.Besides the people mentioned above, recent exemplars of comparative history include American historians Herbert E. Bolton and Carroll Quigley, and British historian Geoffrey Barraclough. Several sociologists are also prominent in this field, including Barrington Moore, S. N. Eisenstadt, Seymour Martin Lipset, Charles Tilly, and Michael Mann.Historians generally accept the comparison of particular institutions (banking, women's rights, ethnic identities) in different societies, but since the hostile reaction to Toynbee in the 1950s, generally do not pay much attention to sweeping comparative studies that cover wide swaths of the world over many centuries.

Comparative politics

Comparative politics is a field in political science, characterized by an empirical approach based on the comparative method. In other words, comparative politics is the study of the domestic politics, political institutions, and conflicts of countries. It often involves comparisons among countries and through time within single countries, emphasizing key patterns of similarity and difference. Arend Lijphart argues that comparative politics does not have a substantive focus in itself, but rather a methodological one: it focuses on "the how but does not specify the what of the analysis." In other words, comparative politics is not defined by the object of its study, but rather by the method it applies to study political phenomena. Peter Mair and Richard Rose advance a slightly different definition, arguing that comparative politics is defined by a combination of a substantive focus on the study of countries' political systems and a method of identifying and explaining similarities and differences between these countries using common concepts. Rose states that, on his definition: "The focus is explicitly or implicitly upon more than one country, thus following familiar political science usage in excluding within-nation comparison. Methodologically, comparison is distinguished by its use of concepts that are applicable in more than one country."When applied to specific fields of study, comparative politics may be referred to by other names, such as for example comparative government (the comparative study of forms of government) or comparative foreign policy (comparing the foreign policies of different States in order to establish general empirical connections between the characteristics of the State and the characteristics of its foreign policy).

Sometimes, especially in the United States, the term "comparative politics" is used to refer to "the politics of foreign countries." This usage of the term, however, is often considered incorrect."Comparative political science" as a general term for an area of study, as opposed to a methodology of study, can be seen as redundant. The political only shows as political when either an overt or tacit comparison is being made. A study of a single political entity, whether a society, subculture or period, would show the political as simple brute reality without comparison with another society, subculture, or period.

The highest award in the discipline of Comparative Politics is the Karl Deutsch award, awarded by the International Political Science Association. So far, it has been given to Juan Linz (2003), Charles Tilly (2006), Giovanni Sartori (2009), and Alfred Stepan (2012).

Contentious politics

Contentious politics is the use of disruptive techniques to make a political point, or to change government policy. Examples of such techniques are actions that disturb the normal activities of society such as demonstrations, general strike action, riot, terrorism, civil disobedience, and even revolution or insurrection. Social movements often engage in contentious politics. The concept distinguishes these forms of contention from the everyday acts of resistance explored by James C. Scott, interstate warfare, and forms of contention employed entirely within institutional settings, such as elections or sports. Historical sociologist Charles Tilly defines contentious politics as "interactions in which actors make claims bearing on someone else's interest, in which governments appear either as targets, initiators of claims, or third parties."Contentious politics has existed forever, but its form varies over time and space. For example, Tilly argues that the nature of contentious politics changed fairly dramatically with the birth of social movements in 18th-century Europe.

The concept of contentious politics was developed throughout the 1990s and into the 21st century by its most prominent scholars in the United States: Sidney Tarrow, Charles Tilly, and Doug McAdam. Until its development, the study of contentious politics was divided among a number of traditions each of which were concerned with the description and explanation of different contentious political phenomena, especially the social movement, the strike, and revolution. One of the primary goals of these three authors was to advance the explanation of these phenomena and other contentious politics under a single research agenda. There remains a significant plurality of agendas in addition to the one these three propose.

Historical institutionalism

Historical institutionalism (HI) is a new institutionalist social science method that uses institutions to find sequences of social, political, economic behavior and change across time. It is a comparative approach to the study of all aspects of human organizations and does so by relying heavily on case studies.

Borrowing from Charles Tilly, historical institutionalism is a method apt for measuring "big structures, large processes, and [making] huge comparisons".Historical Institutionalism has generated some of the most important books in the fields of sociology, political science and economics. In fact, some of these studies have inspired policy and its scholars have received numerous awards. Although historical institutionalism proper is fairly new (circa 1979), it identifies with the great traditions in history, philosophy, politics, sociology and economics.

Historical sociology

Historical sociology is a branch of sociology focusing on how societies develop through history. It looks at how social structures that many regard as natural are in fact shaped by complex social processes. The structure in turn shapes institutions and organizations, which affect the society - resulting in phenomena ranging from gender bias and income inequality to war.

Contemporary historical sociology is primarily concerned with how the state has developed since the Middle Ages, analysing relations between states, classes, economic and political systems.

Jeff Goodwin

Jeffrey Roger Goodwin (born January 28, 1958) is a professor of sociology at New York University. He holds a BA, MA (Sociology) and PhD (Sociology) from Harvard University.

His research interests include visual sociology, social movements, revolutions, political violence, and terrorism. He is a past chair of the Comparative and Historical Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association (ASA).

The underlying argument of his most known book, No Other Way Out: States and Revolutionary Movements, 1945-1991, is that revolutionary movements are not only a response to economic inequality or exploitation, but are also a response to political repression and violence.

Goodwin has written and edited a number of works with his friend and former NYU colleague James M. Jasper. They wrote a famous critique of the political-opportunity theory developed by Charles Tilly and Doug McAdam, republished in Rethinking Social Movements, which Goodwin and Jasper edited. They also edited The Contexts Reader (New York: W. W. Norton), Social Movements (Routledge), The Social Movements Reader (Wiley-Blackwell), and (with Francesca Polletta) Passionate Politics (University of Chicago Press), a leading work in the sociology of emotions.

In October 2011, Goodwin was one of 132 New York University (NYU) faculty and staff members who signed a statement calling for disinvestment in several American companies that do business in Israel. In response to sharp criticism from Congressman Gary Ackerman, Goodwin accused Ackerman of moral blindness and stated that "Ackerman's apparent denial that Israel is occupying Palestinian territories and systematically violating basic Palestinian rights is simply shocking."


Macrosociology is an approach to sociology which emphasizes the analysis of social systems and populations on a large scale, at the level of social structure, and often at a necessarily high level of theoretical abstraction. Microsociology, by contrast, focuses on the individual social agency. Macrosociology also concerns individuals, families, and other constituent aspects of a society, but always does so in relation to larger social system of which they are a part. Macrosociology can also be the analysis of large collectivities (e.g. the city, the church). Human populations are considered a society to the degree that is politically autonomous and its members to engage in a broad range of cooperative activities. For example, this definition would apply to the population of Germany being deemed a society, but German-speaking people as a whole scattered about different countries would not be considered a society. Macrosociology deals with broad societal trends that can later be applied to the smaller features of a society. To differentiate, macrosociology deals with issues such as war, distress of Third World nations, poverty, and environmental deprivation, whereas microsociology analyses issues such as the role of women, the nature of the family, and immigration.

Michael Schwartz (sociologist)

Michael Schwartz (born 1942) is an American sociologist and prominent critic of the Iraq war. He is Distinguished Teaching Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook in New York, where he also serves as faculty director of the Undergraduate College of Global Studies and Chair of the Sociology Department. Schwartz has written extensively in the areas of economic sociology and social movements. Schwartz received his doctorate from the Department of Social Relations, Harvard University, where he was a student of Harrison White and Charles Tilly. His writings on Iraq have appeared in TomDispatch, Asia Times, Mother Jones, and Contexts. In Radical Protest and Social Structure, Schwartz develops the concept of structural ignorance to refer to how individuals make choices and decisions in regard to collective action based on their position in the social structure, which constrains their access to relevant information.


Rebellion, uprising, or insurrection is a refusal of obedience or order. It refers to the open resistance against the orders of an established authority. The term comes from the Latin verb rebellō, "I renew war" (from re- ("again") + bellō ("I wage war/I revolt"). The rebel is the individual that partakes in rebellion or rebellious activities, particularly when armed. Thus, the term rebellion also refers to the ensemble of rebels in a state of revolt.

A rebellion originates from a sentiment of indignation and disapproval of a situation and then manifests itself by the refusal to submit or to obey the authority responsible for this situation. Rebellion can be individual or collective, peaceful (civil disobedience, civil resistance, and nonviolent resistance) or violent (terrorism, sabotage and guerrilla warfare.)

In political terms, rebellion and revolt are often distinguished by their different aims. If rebellion generally seeks to evade and/or gain concessions from an oppressive power, a revolt seeks to overthrow and destroy that power, as well as its accompanying laws. The goal of rebellion is resistance while a revolt seeks a revolution. As power shifts relative to the external adversary, or power shifts within a mixed coalition, or positions harden or soften on either side, an insurrection may seesaw between the two forms.

Relational sociology

Relational sociology is a collection of sociological theories that emphasize relationalism over substantivalism in explanations and interpretations of social phenomena and is most directly connected to the work of Harrison White and Charles Tilly in the United States and Pierpaolo Donati and Nick Crossley in Europe.

Repertoire of contention

Repertoire of contention refers, in social movement theory, to the set of various protest-related tools and actions available to a movement or related organization in a given time frame.


In political science, a revolution (Latin: revolutio, "a turn around") is a fundamental and relatively sudden change in political power and political organization which occurs when the population revolts against the government, typically due to perceived oppression (political, social, economic). In book V of the Politics, the Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle (384–322 BC) described two types of political revolution:

Complete change from one constitution to another

Modification of an existing constitution.Revolutions have occurred through human history and vary widely in terms of methods, duration and motivating ideology. Their results include major changes in culture, economy and socio-political institutions, usually in response to perceived overwhelming autocracy or plutocracy.

Scholarly debates about what does and does not constitute a revolution center on several issues. Early studies of revolutions primarily analyzed events in European history from a psychological perspective, but more modern examinations include global events and incorporate perspectives from several social sciences, including sociology and political science. Several generations of scholarly thought on revolutions have generated many competing theories and contributed much to the current understanding of this complex phenomenon.

Notable revolutions during later centuries include the creation of the United States through the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783), the French Revolution (1789-1799), the 1848 European Revolutions, the Russian Revolution in 1917, the Chinese Revolution of the 1940s, and the Cuban Revolution in 1959.

Revolutionary movement

A revolutionary movement (or revolutionary social movement) is a specific type of social movement dedicated to carrying out a revolution. Charles Tilly defines it as "a social movement advancing exclusive competing claims to control of the state, or some segment of it". Jeff Goodwin and James M. Jasper define it more simply (and consistently with other works) as "a social movement that seeks, as minimum, to overthrow the government or state".A social movement may want to make various reforms and to gain some control of the state, but as long as they do not aim for an exclusive control, its members are not revolutionary. Social movements may become more radical and revolutionary, or vice versa - revolutionary movements can scale down their demands and agree to share powers with others, becoming a run-of-the-mill political party.Goodwin distinguishes between a conservative (reformist) and radical revolutionary movements, depending on how much of a change they want to introduce. A conservative or reformist revolutionary movement will want to change fewer elements of the socio-economic and cultural system than a radical reformist movement (Godwin also notes that not all radical movements have to be revolutionary). A radical revolutionary movement will thus want both to take an exclusive control of the state, and to fundamentally transform one of more elements of its society, economy or culture.An example of a conservative movement would be the American Revolutionary movement of the 18th century, or the Mexican Revolutionary movement of the early 20th century. Examples of radical revolutionary movements include the Bolsheviks in Russia, the Chinese Communist Party and other communist movements in Southeast Asia and in Cuba (which attempted to introduce broad changes to the economic system), the movements of the 1979 Iranian Revolution against the shah, and some Central American guerrilla movements. For a movement to be considered revolutionary in the modern-day United States it should call for a change of the dominant economic system (capitalism) or the political system (two-party representative democracy) operating in that society.The same social movement may be viewed differently depending on a given context (usually the government of the country where it unfolds). For example, Jack Goldstone notes that the human rights movement can be seen as a regular social movement in the West, but it is a revolutionary movement under oppressive régimes like that in China. Another example he mentions was the racial equality movement, which could be seen as revolutionary a few decades ago in South Africa, but as of 1998 is just a regular social movement.A revolutionary movement can be non-violent, although it is less common than not. Revolutionary movements usually have a wider repertoire of contention than non-revolutionary ones.Five crucial factors to the development and success of a revolutionary movements include:

mass discontent leading to popular uprisings

dissident political movements with élite participation

strong and unifying motivations across major parts of the society

a significant political crisis affecting the state - reducing state ability or will to deal with the opposition (see political opportunity)

external support (or at last, lack of interference on behalf of the state)

Reynald Secher

Reynald Secher (born 27 October 1955) is a French historian famous for his work on the War in the Vendée.

Ronald Grigor Suny

Ronald Grigor Suny (born September 25, 1940) is director of the Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies, the Charles Tilly Collegiate Professor of Social and Political History at the University of Michigan, and Emeritus Professor of political science and history at the University of Chicago. He was the first holder of the Alex Manoogian Chair in Modern Armenian History at the University of Michigan, after beginning his career as an assistant professor at Oberlin College. He is a 2013 Berlin Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin.

Suny was born in Philadelphia, graduated from Swarthmore College in 1962, and earned his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1968. His fields of study are the Soviet Union and post-Soviet Russia; nationalism; ethnic conflict; the role of emotions in politics; South Caucasus; and Russian/Soviet historiography.He is a grandson of the Armenian composer Grikor Mirzaian Suni.

State/Space theory

State/Space theory constitutes a new branch of social and political geography in which the issues of space as a geographic element are considered for their influence on political relationships and outcomes. Leading scholars include Neil Brenner at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and Bob Jessop at Lancaster University in England, United Kingdom.

Other relevant scholars include the following: Henri Lefebvre, Charles Tilly, Saskia Sassen, and Edward W. Soja.

States and Power in Africa

States and Power in Africa: Comparative Lessons in Authority and Control is a book on African state-building by Jeffrey Herbst, former Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. The book was a co-winner of the 2001 Gregory Luebbert Book Award from the American Political Science Association in comparative politics. It was also a finalist for the 2001 Herskovits Prize awarded by the African Studies Association.This book attempts to explain the lack of robust institutions and the prevalence of state failure in Africa. The work is heavily influenced by the scholarship of Charles Tilly and Max Weber. Both writers emphasize the role of war in the consolidation of state power over well-defined territories.

War in the Vendée

The War in the Vendée (1793; French: Guerre de Vendée) was an uprising in the Vendée region of France during the French Revolution. The Vendée is a coastal region, located immediately south of the Loire River in western France. Initially, the war was similar to the 14th-century Jacquerie peasant uprising, but quickly acquired themes considered by the Jacobin government in Paris to be counter-revolutionary, and Royalist. The uprising headed by the newly formed Catholic and Royal Army was comparable to the Chouannerie, which took place in the area north of the Loire.

The departments included in the uprising, called the Vendée Militaire, included the area between the Loire and the Layon rivers: Vendée (Marais, Bocage Vendéen, Collines Vendéennes), part of Maine-et-Loire west of the Layon, and the portion of Deux-Sèvres west of the River Thouet. Having secured their pays, the deficiencies of the Vendean army became more apparent. Lacking a unified strategy (or army) and fighting a defensive campaign, from April onwards the army lost cohesion and its special advantages. Successes continued for some time: Thouars was taken in early May and Saumur in June; there were victories at Châtillon and Vihiers. After this string of victories, the Vendeans turned to a protracted siege of Nantes, for which they were unprepared and which stalled their momentum, giving the government in Paris sufficient time to send more troops and experienced generals.

Tens of thousands of civilians, royalists, Republican prisoners, and sympathizers with the revolution or the religious were massacred by both armies. Historians such as Reynald Secher have described these events as "genocide", but most scholars reject the use of the word as inaccurate. Ultimately, the uprising was suppressed using draconian measures. The historian François Furet concludes that the repression in the Vendée "not only revealed massacre and destruction on an unprecedented scale but also a zeal so violent that it has bestowed as its legacy much of the region's identity ... The war aptly epitomizes the depth of the conflict ... between religious tradition and the revolutionary foundation of democracy."

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