The Urban Advantage in Revolution

Revolutions are relatively rare moments of direct mass intervention in politics. But as a new cross-national data set of revolutionary episodes from 1900 to 2014 shows, these unusual moments have been growing both more frequent and more “successful” (in the sense of more likely to displace incumbent regimes) over time, though less consequential in their lasting impact. These trends have been driven in large part by the increasingly urban character of revolutionary challenges and the emergence of a new repertoire of urban civic revolt that mobilizes large numbers of participants in central urban spaces in a concentrated period of time. The talk explores the nature of this “urban advantage” in revolution and how the politics of urban civic revolts differ in fundamental ways from revolutionary politics of the past.