The Inevitability of Future Revolutionary Surprises

Timur Kuran

Although social scientists have written extensively on revolutions, none of their theories has shown much predictive success in practice. Recent revolutions surprised social scientists as much as anyone else. This article proposes that revolutionary surprises will occur repeatedly, although it is possible to identify countries relatively likely to experience a sudden explosion. The argument hinges on preference falsification—the act of misrepresenting one's preferences under perceived social pressures. By falsifying their preferences with regard to the incumbent regime, disgruntled citizens distort perceptions of the potential for political change. The article's key proposition may be refuted by building a model that successfully predicts when and where revolutions will occur.

American Journal of Sociology, 100 (May 1995): 1528-1551.