Rebellion, Violence and Revolution: A Rational Choice Perspective

Journal article

Weede, Erich & Edward N. Muller (1998) Rebellion, Violence and Revolution: A Rational Choice Perspective, Journal of Peace Research 35 (1): 43–59.

There are many rebellions, fewer successful rebellions, and extremely few social revolutions. First, the relative frequencies of elite and mass rebellions are investigated. Because a rational choice approach finds it easier to explain elite rebellions and a deprivation approach seems tailored to the explanation of mass rebellions, the relative frequencies of these two types of rebellion favor rational choice. Second, the small number of mass rebellions is related to military issues, such as loyalty and defeat in war. Although military defeat in war is neither close to a necessary, nor to a sufficient condition of successful rebellion, it still might multiply its likelihood. Third, it is argued that the link between international rivalries and great revolutions via ruler discouragement and rebel encouragement is compatible with a rational choice approach. Because it is obviously so important in revolutions, nationalist and religious zealotry needs to be integrated into rational choice approaches to rebellion and revolution.

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