Ideology and the revolutionary process: two socialist case studies

Saab, Jade Miguel Bassem (2024) Ideology and the revolutionary process: two socialist case studies. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Contemporary theories of revolution have been unable to convincingly integrate the role of ideology in understanding the process of revolutions. They have therefore been unsuccessful in overcoming, and reproduce, critical research gaps and problematics including a false structure/agency dichotomy and substituting macro-economic and class markers for causal analysis. This dissertation addresses these shortcomings by developing a theory of revolution which explains the process of revolutions through the ideologies of the groups and organisations which wage and resist them. This ideological analysis addresses current research gaps and provides a richer explanation of revolutions than competing theories. The dissertation first develops a theoretical framework for studying ideology at the level of groups and organisations by combining framing theory with Michael Freeden’s (1996) “conceptual approach”. The framework shows that ideology is a tangible force that enables and constrain practice. Furthermore, it informs the objectives, structures, tactics, and resources of groups and organisations.

A Marxist approach is utilised to illustrate the interaction of ideologies within a “field of power”. A four-stage process of revolution is derived from this field. The process highlights how revolutions emerge from social movements, and how participating groups and organisations change their ideologies as they simultaneously create and negotiate the stages. The ideological account of revolution is assessed against rational choice theories (RCT), resource mobilisation (RM), deprivation theories, and structural theories of revolution. This appraisal demonstrates that these theories are incomplete without an explicit account of ideology.

Ideological analysis is applied to the Bolshevik party and the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT, National Confederation of Labour) across specific phases of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Spanish Civil War and Revolution of 1936 respectively. The original insight developed in these case studies provides evidence that ideological analysis is better at explaining revolutionary processes than competing theoretical approaches.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HX Socialism. Communism. Anarchism
J Political Science > JC Political theory
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social & Environmental Sustainability
Supervisor's Name: Franks, Dr. Benjamin and Yaffe, Dr. Helen
Date of Award: 2024
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2024-84128
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 19 Mar 2024 16:20
Last Modified: 22 Mar 2024 15:22
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.84128

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