Urbanization and Revolutions: a Quantitative Analysis

Urbanization and Revolutions:
a Quantitative Analysis

Ustyzhanin V.V.

стажер-исследователь Лаборатория мониторинга рисков социально-политической дестабилизации Национального исследовательского университета «Высшая школа экономики»; младший научный сотрудник международной лаборатории демографии и человеческого капитала Российской академии народного хозяйства и государственной службы, Москва, Россия. vvustiuzhanin@hse.ru

Sumernikov E.A.

Research Intern, Laboratory for Monitoring the Risks of Socio-Political Destabilization, National Research University “Higher School of Economics”, Moscow, Russia. iasumernikov@hse.ru

Grinin L.Ye.

Dr. Sci. (Philos.), Chief Researcher Laboratory for Monitoring the Risks of Socio-Political Destabilization, National Research University “Higher School of Economics”; Chief Researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of RAS, Moscow, Russia. lgrinin@hse.ru

Korotayev A.V.

Dr. Sci. (Hist.), Head of the Laboratory for Monitoring the Risks of Socio-Political Destabilization, National Research University “Higher School of Economics”; Chief Researcher at the Institute for African Studies of RAS, Moscow, Russia. akorotayev@gmail.com

ID of the Article:

The research was conducted as part of the HSE Basic Research Program in 2022 with the support of the RSF, Project No. 18-18-00254.

For citation:

Ustyzhanin V.V., Sumernikov E.A., Grinin L.Ye., Korotayev A.V. Urbanization and Revolutions: a Quantitative Analysis. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2022. No 10. P. 85-95


Developing countries are now at a stage of accelerated modernization and its crucial part – the urbanization transition. In classical papers on this topic, authors mentioned that revolutions are an integral part of modernization. In this article authors present a study of how urbanization affects the risks of different revolutionary events – armed and unarmed. By exploiting cross-national data from 1950 to 2019 and analyzing 459 revolutionary events from NAVCO database, authors conclude that there is a strong and negative correlation between urbanization and the risks of armed uprisings. Meanwhile, the risks of unarmed revolutions behave curvilinearily: as urbanization increases, the risks of the unarmed uprisings increase, but begin to fall when the country is in the final stage of the urbanization transition. Thus, we are dealing with a pronounced curvilinear (inverted U-shaped) relationship between urbanization and the risks of unarmed revolutionary destabilization.

revolutions; urbanization; modernization; armed revolutions; unarmed revolutions; crossnational studies


Голдстоун Дж. К теории революции четвертого поколения // Логос. 2006. № 5. C. 58–103. [Goldstone J.A. (2006) Toward a fourth generation of revolutionary theory. Logos. No. 5: 58–103. (In Russ.)]

Голдстоун Дж. Революции: очень краткое введение. М.: Ин-т Гайдара, 2015. [Goldstone J.A. (2015) Revolutions: A very short introduction. Moscow: In-t Gaidara. (In Russ.)]

Коротаев А.В., Божевольнов Ю.В., Гринин Л.Е. и др. Ловушка на выходе из ловушки. Логические и математические модели // Проекты и риски будущего / Отв. ред. А.А. Акаев. М.: Красанд/URSS, 2011. С. 138–164. [Korotayev A.V., Bozhevolnov J.V., Grinin L.E. et al. (2011) Trap at the exit from the trap. Logical and mathematical models. In: Akaev A. (ed.) Projects and risks of the future. Moscow: Krasand/URSS: 138–164. (In Russ.)]

Коротаев А.В., Гринин Л.Е., Медведев И.А., Слав М. Типы политических режимов и риски революционной дестабилизации в ХХI веке // Социологическое обозрение. 2022. Т. 21. № 2. С. 9–65. [Korotayev A.V., Grinin L.E., Medvedev I.A., Slav M. (2022) Types of political regimes and risks of revolutionary destabilization in the 21st century. Sotsiologicheskoe obozrenie [Russian Sociological Review]. Vol. 21. No. 2: 9–65. (In Russ.)]

Коротаев А.В., Сойер П.С., Гринин Л.Е. и др. Социально-экономическое развитие и антиправительственные протесты // Социологический журнал. 2020. Т. 26. № 4. С. 61–78. [Korotayev A., Sawyer P., Grinin L.E. et al. (2020) Socio-economic Development and Anti-Government Protests. Sotsiologicheskiy zhurnal [Russian Sociological Journal]. Vol. 26. No. 4: 61–78. (In Russ.)]

Романов Д.М., Мещерина К.В., Коротаев А.В. Доля молодежи в общей численности взрослого населения как фактор интенсивности ненасильственных протестов // Полис. Политические исследования. 2021. № 3. С. 166–181. [Romanov D.M., Meshcherina K.V., Korotayev A.V. (2021). The Share of Youth in the Total Population as a Factor of Intensity of Non-Violent Protests. Polis. Politicheskie issledovaniya [Polis. Political Studies]. No. 3: 166–181. (In Russ.)]

Устюжанин В.В., Гринин Л.Е., Медведев И.А., Коротаев А.В. Образование и революции // Полития. 2022. № 104(1). С. 50–71. [Ustyuzhanin V.V., Grinin L.E., Medvedev I.A., Korotayev A.V. (2022) Education and Revolutions. Politeia. No. 104(1): 50–71. (In Russ.)]

Хантингтон С. Политический порядок в меняющихся обществах. М.: Прогресс-Традиция, 2004. [Huntington S. (2004) Political order in changing societies. Moscow: Progress-Traditsiya. (In Russ.)]

Ackerman P., Karatnycky A. (2005) How freedom is won: from civic resistance to durable democracy. International Journal of Non-for-Profit Law. Vol. 7. No. 3: 47–59.

Albrecht H., Koehler K. (2020) Revolutionary mass uprisings in authoritarian regimes. International Area Studies Review. Vol. 23. No. 2: 135–159.

Beissinger M. (2022) The Revolutionary City: Urbanization and the Global Transformation of Rebellion. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Besançon M.L. (2005) Relative resources: Inequality in ethnic wars, revolutions, and genocides. Journal of Peace Research. Vol. 42. No. 4: 393–415.

Buhaug H., Lujala P. (2005) Accounting for scale: Measuring geography in quantitative studies of civil war. Political Geography. Vol. 24. No. 4: 399–418.

Butcher C., Svensson I. (2016) Manufacturing dissent: Modernization and the onset of major nonviolent resistance campaigns. Journal of Conflict Resolution. Vol. 60. No. 2: 311–339.

Celestino M.R., Gleditsch K.S. (2013) Fresh carnations or all thorn, no rose? Nonviolent campaigns and transitions in autocracies. Journal of Peace Research. Vol. 50. No. 3. P. 385–400.

Center for Systemic Peace. (2022) Polity5 Database. Vienna, VA: Center for Systemic Peace. URL: http://www.systemicpeace.org/inscr/p5v2018.xls (accessed 24.06.2022).

Chenoweth E., Shay C.W. (2020) List of Campaigns in NAVCO 1.3. Harvard Dataverse.

Chenoweth E., Stephan M.J. (2011) Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict. New York: Columbia University Press.

Chenoweth E., Ulfelder J. (2017) Can structural conditions explain the onset of nonviolent uprisings? Journal of Conflict Resolution. Vol. 61. No. 2: 298–324.

Dahl M., Gates S., Gleditsch K., Gonzalez B. (2021) Accounting for numbers: Group characteristics and the choice of violent and nonviolent tactics. Economics of Peace and Security Journal. Vol. 16. No. 1: 5–25.

Dahlum S. (2019) Students in the streets: Education and nonviolent protest. Comparative Political Studies. Vol. 52. No. 2: 277–309.

Gleditsch K.S., Rivera M. (2017) The diffusion of nonviolent campaigns. Journal of Conflict Resolution. Vol. 61. No. 5: 1120–1145.

Goldstone J.A. (2002) Population and security: How demographic change can lead to violent conflict. Journal of International Affairs. Vol. 56. No. 1: 3–21.

Goldstone J.A. (2016) Revolution and Rebellion in the Early Modern World: Population Change and State Breakdown in England, France, Turkey, and China, 1600–1850. London: Routledge.

Grinin L. (2022) Revolutions and modernization traps. In: Goldstone J.A., Grinin L., Korotayev A. (eds) New Waves of Revolutions in the 21st Century – Understanding the Causes and Effects of Disruptive Political Changes. Cham: Springer: 219–238.

Hegre H., Sambanis N. (2006) Sensitivity analysis of empirical results on civil war onset. Journal of Conflict Resolution. Vol. 50. No. 4: 508–535.

Inglehart R., Welzel C. (2005) Modernization, Cultural Change, and Democracy: The Human Development Sequence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Jenkins J.C., Wallace M. (1996) The generalized action potential of protest movements: The new class, social trends, and political exclusion explanations. Sociological Forum. Vol. 11. No. 2: 183–207.

Kadivar M.A., Ketchley N. (2018) Sticks, stones and Molotov cocktails: Unarmed collective violence and democratization. Socius. Vol. 4: 1–6.

Korotayev A., Bilyuga S., Shishkina A. (2018) GDP Per Capita and Protest Activity: A Quantitative Reanalysis. Cross-Cultural Research. Vol. 52. No. 4: 406–440.

Korotayev A., Malkov S., Grinin L. (2014) A trap at the escape from the trap? Some demographic structural factors of political instability in modernizing social systems. History & Mathematics. Vol. 4: 201–267.

Korotayev A., Sawyer P., Romanov D. (2021) Socio-Economic Development and Protests. A Quantitative Reanalysis. Comparative Sociology. Vol. 20. No. 2: 195–222.

Sawyer P., Romanov D., Slav M., Korotayev A. (2022) Urbanization, the Youth, and Protest: A Cross-National Analysis. Cross-Cultural Research. Vol. 56. No. 2–3: 125–149.

Sawyer P.S., Korotayev A.V. (2022) Formal Education and Contentious Politics: The Case of Violent and Non-Violent Protest. Political Studies Review. Vol. 24. No. 1: 1–24.

Shaheen S. (2015) Social Uprisings: Conceptualization, Measurement, Causes and Implications. Doctoral Dissertation: Philipps-University of Marburg.

Tilly C. (1995) Contentious Repertoires in Great Britain, 1758–1834. In: Traugott M. (ed.) Repertoires and Cycles of Collective Action. Durham, NC: Duke University Press: 15–42.

United Nations Population Division. (2022) World Urbanization Prospects Database. New York: United Nations. URL: https://population.un.org/wup/ (accessed 24.06.2022).

Urdal H. (2008) Population, resources, and political violence: A subnational study of India, 1956–2002. Journal of Conflict Resolution. Vol. 52. No. 4: 590–617.

Content No 10, 2022