Socio-psychological Theories of Revolutions

  • Stan Taylor


The distinguishing characteristic of psychological theories is a focus upon the explanation of attitudes and behaviour in terms of the mental processes of individuals. The usage of such theories in the context of revolutions was relatively limited until the 1960s; the work of Le Bon1 and Ellwood2 in the early years of the present century was followed by a few psychodynamic or psychohistorical studies3 of individual revolutionary activists or leaders, but the potential contribution of psychology was ignored by most of the ‘second wave’ theorists. However, psychological theories came into favour during the 1960s in the wake of the widespread adoption of ‘behaviouralism’ as a paradigm for research in political science. Behaviouralism4 was a collective term for a set of diverse contentions concerning the objectives and methodology of research in political sciences. The most important of these in the present context was that political science should focus upon the political attitudes and behaviours of individuals and, in explaining these, full account should be taken of the perceptions and mental processes of individuals themselves as well as other factors. It was argued that researchers had over-stressed the role of the objective situations of individuals in determining their political attitudes and behaviour and, in consequence, had produced theories which were contradictory and inadequate.


Posit Arena Argentina Defend Cuban 


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© Stan Taylor 1984

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  • Stan Taylor

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