POLB92 MIDTERM NOTES
● State → Central apparatus of political or coercive power in a particular national territory (police,
military, welfare office)
○ Maintains order, and service to the citizens
● Regime→ Set of rules by which political power is allocated
○ Democracy, monarchy, who possesses the biggest gun
● Government→ Group of people in power at the time
○ Changes the most often, the most impermanent
● Dependent Variable → What are you trying to explain?
● Independent Variable → The factors that you think explain the outcome
○ e.g. I'm hungry because not eaten all day. IV is not eating and DV is hunger.
● Correlational Analysis → Looking for relationships between the Independent Variable and the
○ Primary concern is increasing number of observations to gain statistical significance
○ Hard to incorporate time
○ BUT: Meaningless correlations?
● Case Study → We are identifying the causal mechanisms
○ Detailed analysis of individual case
○ Focus on the time
○ BUT: Is it relevant to other cases?
● Violent, rare, impactful
● Structural Explanation
○ Long term factors that don't easily change
○ Very PREDICTABLE (limited number of possible outcomes)
○ Misery and poverty causes revolution
■ People have nothing to lose but their chains. BUT!
● Misery actually breeds passivity. They are barely surviving and you don't
have time to go out and protest. You just focus on surviving.
● Lack of resources for rebellion. Don't know how to influence the wealthy and important (no cultural capital). Lack of education.
● Low expectations. Enduring poverty makes their condition seem like a
fact of life.
● Marxist Theory
○ Class based analysis: haves vs. have nots
○ Feudalism REVOLUTION Capitalism REVOLUTION Communism
○ Change is violent and conflict. People don't give up without a fight.
○ Two types:
■ Bourgeois revolution where feudalism and elite is replaced by capitalism
● Wealth is based on land and birth. Power is centralized in a small elite.
● Rise of capitalism
● Creating a competitive system that excludes most of the population.
■ Communist revolution
● Desire to reduce costs leads to capitalists to force down wages of the
● This in turn revolutionized in dissatisfaction of workers
○ For this to work you don't need values, beliefs etc. All you need is capitalists.
■ A capitalist exists for their own interest (profit driven, but unbeknownst to them, it
leads to a revolution. A destruction of their own capitalism.
● Relative Deprivation
○ When does poverty lead to a revolt? Have to look at relative misery instead of absolute
misery. Expectations can only be frustrated if they are high and rising.
■ The J-Curve. You have it good, then it goes down. "What?! I thought things were
● e.g. Boston Red Sox. The fans were upset when they don't get a cup,
because they are used to them winning.
■ Revolutions require much more than dashed expectations
● Collective Action Problem
○ Any sort of collective action is individually irrational. The individual impact on the broader
outcome is minimal. It requires risk and effort. Where people who don't rebel don’t get
○ Solve this by...
■ Organization. (e.g. In the US they used churches to facilitate the civil rights movement)
● Skocpol’s Theory of Revolution --NOTES
○ State is relatively autonomous. An act in its own right, not just a support for the dominant
○ Make the states vulnerable to breakdown to external pressure--fall behind on military and
○ Agrarian bureaucracy: state in rural country that depends heavily on landed elite or
aristocracy. Power is to the elite, and they face modernization crisis.
○ Monarchs seek resources for war/modernization cause split in upper class
○ Rebellious peasants + revolutionary elite = Revolution.
■ Leadership? → Someone must sell the revolutionary project to the masses
● Voluntarist Theory of Revolution
○ Depends on the action of a particular person or event
○ UNPREDICTABLE or contingent
○ Condition for revolution is everywhere, but there isn't always a leader to catalyze or spark
● Diffusion --NOTES
○ Example of revolutionary success in one country inspires opposition in another
Origins of French Revolution
● Voluntarist Approach
○ Mistakes by Louis XVI
■ Decision to help the American Revolution which then causes deficit
■ Radicalizes the Parlements in 1788 by arresting the members of the Paris
Parlement, which lead to the calling of Estates General
● Structuralist response? Only did this because he needed taxes due to
being bankrupt. Driven by structural needs to get more money
● King then fled the country in 1791
○ Marie Antoinette spent loads of jewels and money while the French nation was bankrupt
○ Robespierre as inspiration behind Great Terror
■ No structural reason for Robespierre’s role and inspiration to exist
■ Obsession with his notion of virtue
○ Marat with ideology, became martyr
○ Bad weather causing a bad harvest
● Structuralist Approach (Marx)
○ Rise of bourgeoisie
○ Elimination of barriers to capitalism ■ Role of commercial class in revolution
● Rise of the third estate by the Estates General
● 98% of population on had 33% of the vote. They said no to voting by
order (class and birthright) and yes to voting by head
○ Revolution supported by middle class (artisans and
● Strengthened private property
● Barriers to national market is eliminated
○ Problems with Marx?
■ Blurred lines of conflict: It wasn’t the case where only the Third Estate supported
voting by head. A minority of aristocrats and clergy supported it. One of the initial
moments was in fact 30 aristocrats.
■ Conflicts within the ruling class just as intense as the conflict between classes
● Why was the Estate General called in the first place? Because there was
conflicts between the aristocrats and the king due to taxation.
● Conflict within the elite allows the lower classes to emerge.
■ Revolution strengthened the state (created a bureaucracy) not the entrepreneurs
● Skocpol’s Theory
○ Weakened French State
■ Why was the state weak enough to all the masses to win?
■ International competition from stronger foreign powers. France has to raise
money (taxes) to compete with England.
■ Efforts at reform
■ Strong resistance or rebellion by aristocracy or other elites
■ Opening for peasant rebellion → Allie with the urban radicals → Change in social
■ International pressures
● Lost wars (Seven Years War, War of Austrian Succession)
● American Revolution (The state is overwhelmed due to loans)
○ Weak revenue in raising capacities
■ Louis the XVI’s power is actually decentralised. So many people had the right to
not pay taxes.
■ Privileges: If you were able to purchase a position, you are basically exempted
■ Venal Offices: where he sold bureaucratic positions (short term cash, long term =
you’re stuck with them till you buy them out)
● Ineffective administration, are they even good at their job?!
● A key to a good government is able to fire people
■ He’s saving money to support the aristocrat’s interests. Need money to keep the
system. BUT Aristocracy is resistant to taxes and tax reform “screw you I want to
keep my money”
● Nobles refuse to give up privileges
■ Estates General ● 1787 Parlement of Paris
○ Refuse to register stamp and land tax to pay off debt
○ They were then exiled by the king
○ Parlements rally behind Paris, and the king calls for Estates
● Skocpol: Why was the general called in the first place? It is a function of
the weak state, whose not even able to tax their nobility.
● Marx: Role of commercial class in revolution
○ Rise of the third estate by the Estates General
○ 98% of population on had 33% of the vote. They said no to
voting by order (class and birthright) and yes to voting by head
● ON THE MIDTERM. Skocpol vs. Marx on Estates General.
■ French peasantry had ownership had large portions of land passed on within
● Carry out their own affairs (had heavy rents or controls)
● They are in the position to carry out massive rebellions → Downfall of
French social system
■ Very little room for agency (Marie Antoinette, Louis XVI, Robespierre)
■ No theory of urban revolts, key to the revolution
■ No ideology, that we can understand the French revolution without enlightenment
Structural Causes of 1848
● Marx: Communist Revolution
○ Rise of the proletariat against “bourgeois monarch”
○ Bourgeoisie vs. workers/suffrage
■ In Frankfurt, liberals opposed to universal male suffrage only for the wealthy.
Why did they not want workers? What would the radicals do? They want to
eliminate the privileges (private property).
■ Opposition by liberals to efforts to thwart mechanization
■ France is much less industrialized than Great Britain where there was no
revolution (totally against Marx’s prediction)
■ Classes take different sides, many radicals were artisans who fight alongside
proletariat, some bourgeoisie support workers.
■ Protests in areas (Danube) untouched by industrialization, education, liberal
● Economic Depression
○ Food supply shock of 1845 all through Europe
○ Revolution does not occur in GB and Sweden because there was less economic shock