Social changes and the twilight of social revolutions

Social change was a subject, but also a concept analyzed by sociology and by various fields associated or complementary to the types of theoretical interventions: history, political science, social psychology, crowd psychology, political economy, etc. Social changes targeted a state, a geographical area, a continent or other geographical boundaries, with two points of interference: the internal vectors of the social phenomenon, as well as the external vectors, in the diversity of their coordinates. The fundamental gnoseological elements have emerged in various sociological models, with references to social changes and conflicts, social revolutions. A. Comte, K. Marx, T. Parsons, M. Weber, P. Sorokin, R. Merton, A. Giddens are just a few reference names. Regardless of the context or author, the sociology of change requires an analysis of factors in an X state, which evolves and transforms itself into a Y state. J. Baechler proposes the realization of a social change in four phases: drift, evolution, revolution and mutation. (1)

In any conceptual construction, with reference to social change, it is mandatory to recognize the diversity of the cases of change, the complexity of the social processes, the analysis of the phenomena and the types of interaction that exist. (2)

The “Arab Spring” is also in a relatively close time zone (2011) which was promoted in the media as a revolution. Conceptually and pragmatically, it represented the installation of chaos for some countries (Libya, Syria) regardless of the political, military or geopolitical motivations. Some Arab countries were not affected at all (Morocco, Algeria, Jordan). There was one exception – Egypt. Initially, the Islamist organization Muslim Brotherhood took the power, after massive street demonstrations and violent clashes with the law enforcement forces. Mubarak, the former president, is arrested and a number of lawsuits are being filed against him. In the end, the Egyptian Army intervenes and removes the Muslim Brotherhood from governing.

This Arab experiment was not even an attempt of a revolution. Political changes were wanted only in some Arab countries, the interests being diverse and multiple. A form of media manipulation was also tried. Any revolution gives a certain kind of legitimacy to the new governing power. Change remains only change.

Revolutions were forms of resolving major crises in different areas and stages of human evolution. The revolutions allowed the sudden and violent replacement of one political, economic and social system with another. Regardless of the means used to achieve the goals. History records the major revolutions as major events: English, American, French and Russian. (3) Theoretical approaches have generally been related to the paradigms of the French and Russian revolutions. A. Giddens identifies three models that explain the phenomenon of the revolution as such: the theories of K. Marx, J. Davies and C. Tilly. (4)

The concept of revolution has been the subject of analysis for other areas of knowledge. The German historian I. Geiss evokes the fact that “the external effects of the French Revolution would be considerable. Unlike the English Revolution, the French Revolution would not remain an isolated phenomenon, manifesting its influence in a considerably enlarged space…” (5) J.M. Greer, in his Encyclopedia of Secret Societies and Hidden History, ** points out that in the case of the American, French or Russian revolutions there was a certain interference of the secret, discreet (Freemasonry) or occult societies within the revolutionary phenomena, even if, not always, in the course of the revolutionary events, their role and place could be accurately pointed out. From the perspective of the political philosophy, „conservatism, reformism, revolution are the three orientations that the political action can take” (6). In reference to the most important events with a global impact, P. Miquel also includes the French Revolution (7), and in the perspective of a more recent history (1989 – author’s note), the main factors of the destruction of the Stalinist empire in Central and Eastern Europe were Gorbachev and the economic disaster.” (8)

Multidisciplinary approaches, somewhat different but complementary conclusions in understanding the social mechanism behind a social revolution. „Explaining a social phenomenon often means showing what can be seen as the unintended effect of rational actions.” (9) The revolution is a social phenomenon given its form of manifestation, amplitude, duration and consequences. „The experience gained never expires. They are only polished and adapted to the needs, regardless of the type and structure of the social actor. Let us reread once again, with the necessary attention and skill, the quote from the text of the renowned sociologist R. Boudon (1998), given that the masses are amorphous, impersonal and incapable of carrying out revolutionary projects and strategies. „Rational actions” belong to others!” (11)




  • Are the evolution, crisis, and revolution still operational concepts, what can join, to achieve major changes in one area or another of the world?
  • If so, is the revolution perceived as a goal or a means?
  • In the new world order, in which globalization has its well-defined coordinates, are we witnessing, de facto, a semantic and operational dissolution of the concept of social revolution, returning, in terms of our evolution, to something like the social perpetuum mobile of the first kind?

To what extent were the various analyzes, studies, reports, works, research carried out in the last part of the twentieth century (Ex: Reports of the Club of Rome, A. Toffler – The shock of the future, The third wave, S. Huntington, The clash of civilizations, etc.) able to offer premises, partial certainties, working hypotheses that would allow the construction of projections or even reasonable predictions about major changes in the beginning of the third millennium?

I believe that the conceptual symbolism of the social revolution on the scale of human development has largely ended its mandate, as a way of radical change and increasing the permissiveness of a new model of social evolution in the economic, social and political spectrum, in the desired sense. There is no possible confusion (intentionally or not) between the various forms of revolutionary movements (if they really exist in different parts of the world) and the concept of social revolution, since we find its representative paradigms in the French and Russian revolutions.


The geopolitical and geostrategic divergences in the contemporary world that can manifest themselves in various coordinates (conflicts, conflicting interests, local wars, etc.) are not subsumed to social revolutions, even if there is a certain temptation to introduce them in the power games in various parts of the world, by relating them (in particular) to the perception of the collective mind.

The text represents the point of view of the author


1) J. Beechler, Dicționar de sociologie, Larousse, Editura Univers Enciclopedic, 1996, pp. 237-239
2) A se vedea, B. Valade, Schimbare socială, în vol. Tratat de sociologie, Editura Humanitas, 1997, pp. 356-392
3) *Este necesară o delimitare distinctă între mișcările revoluționare și conceptul de revoluție.
4) A. Giddens, Sociologie, Editura All, 2001, pp. 540-548
5) I. Geiss, Istoria lumii, Editura All, 2012, p. 440
**A se vedea, J. M. Greer, Enciclopedia societăților secrete și istoria lumii ascunse, Editura All, 2009, pp. 463-468
6) B. Valade, op. cit. p. 391
7) P. Miquel, Evenimente cruciale ale istoriei, Editura Lider, 2002, pp. 88-107
8) P. Calvacoressi, Europa de la Bismark la Gorbaciov, Editura Polirom, 2003, p. 
9) R. Boudon, Efecte perverse și ordine socială, Editura Eurosong&Book, 1998, p. 7
10) Alte perspective asupra problematicii revoluțiilor sociale: J. Foran (coord.), Teoretizarea revoluțiilor, Editura Polirom, 2004; V. Radovan, Revoluția din manual,; M. L. Rouquette, Despre cunoaşterea maselor, Ed. Polirom, 2002.
11) V. Radovan, op. cit. p. 3

Velemir Radovan

Velemir Radovan

Sociologist, University of Bucharest, Faculty of Philosophy, Sociology specialization. Phd. Sociology, University of Bucharest, PhD, Social and Political Sciences. Postgraduate in public administration / civil servants driving /, Organizational Management, National Institute of Administration, Bucharest. DIPLOME POSTUNIVERSITAIRE DE SPECIALISATION EN'' POULATION ET DEVELOPPEMENT'', CENTRE DEMOGRAPHIQUE O.N.U.-ROUMANIE. Certificate diploma, Three-step training program for social child protection specialists, USAID, WORLD LEARNING CHILDNET PROGRAM, UNICEF, CRIPS. Certificate of Developer, DFID, MMSS,BIRKS SINCLAIR&ASSOCIATESLTD.. Other certifications: Project manager. Trainer. Mediator. Expert in social work. . Measuring poverty and social exclusion. Fundamentals of Public Administration. Social Management. Social services development.
Global Goodwill Ambassador. Humanitarian. Sociologist, Head of Department, Executive Director, General Manager, Labour and Social Security Service, Olt County, ROMANIA. Associate Professor, University of Pitești, Romania.. RESEARCHER, IRSOP-MARKET RESEARCHCONSULTING Ltd., Bucharest. Expert, Birks Sinclair & Associates Ltd, Ministry of Labour, DFID. Member, Executive Secretary, COMMISSION FOR PROTECTION OF THE RIGHTS OF CHILDREN. Executive Secretary, Demography County Commission, OLT. Publications: BOOKS, RESEARCH, STUDIES, ESSEYS.

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