Waves of revolutions in the 21st century

Waves of revolutions in the 21st century

Goldstone J.A.,

George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government, Arlington, USA, jgoldsto@gmu.edu

ORCID: 0000-0003-1524-6081 |

Grinin L.Ye.,

HSE University, Moscow, Russia; Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia, leonid.grinin@gmail.com

elibrary_id: 250272 | ORCID: 0000-0003-0278-2619 | RESEARCHER_ID: D-8842-2012

Korotayev A.V.,

HSE University, Moscow, Russia; M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia, akorotayev@gmail.com

elibrary_id: 72980 | ORCID: 0000-0003-3014-2037 | RESEARCHER_ID: N-1160-2018

Article received: 2021.08.30 16:35. Accepted: 2022.03.29 16:35
DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2022.04.09

For citation:

Goldstone J.A., Grinin L.Ye., Korotayev A.V. Waves of revolutions in the 21st century. – Polis. Political Studies. 2022. No. 4. P. 108-119. (In Russ.). https://doi.org/10.17976/jpps/2022.04.09

This article is an output of a research project implemented as part of the Basic Research Program at HSE University in 2022 with support by the Russian Science Foundation (Project 18-18-00254).


The present article offers a preliminary description of three revolutionary waves of the 21st century as well as of their characteristics and causes. One of the objectives of the present paper is to develop analytical tools, in particular to add more insight to the very notion of revolution and revolutionary events as well as develop a typology of revolutionary events. In general, the present article offers a theoretical and partially quantitative analysis of the twenty-first century’s revolutionary process. It also suggests a new approach to the definition of waves of revolutions which implies the following criteria: 1) an actual connectedness of the events within the World System via common factors; 2) the number of revolutions should be no less than 4-5; 3) the time interval between revolutionary events should be less than ten years between the start of the first and the start of the last event; 4) one chronological period should comprise only one wave. Based on these criteria we have distinguished three waves in the 21st century. The first wave included the color revolutions of 2000-2009. The second wave was the Arab Spring and its global aftermath, 2010/2011-2013. The third wave is incomplete since it started in 2018 and is still in progress. In general, the performed analysis allows characterizing the revolutionary process of the 21st century as a) rather dynamic with increasing revolutionary intensity; b) rather diverse in terms of the types of revolutionary events; and c) rather disperse as revolutionary events occur not only in the World System periphery but in its core as well. 

revolution, analogue of revolution, waves of revolutions, typology of revolutions, World System, a world-system event, revolutionary event, color revolutions, the Arab Spring, the 21st century.

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Content No. 4, 2022

See also:

Grinin L.Ye., Grinin A.L.,
Revolutions of the 20th Century: A Theoretical-Quantitative Analysis. – Polis. Political Studies. 2020. No5

Nefedov S.A.,
On the Reasons and Meaning of Revolutions (Nikolai Rozov’s Version). – Polis. Political Studies. 2019. No6

Goldstone J.A., Grinin L.Ye., Ustyuzhanin V.V., Korotayev A.V.,
Revolutionary events of the 21st century: a preliminary quantitative analysis. – Polis. Political Studies. 2023. No4

Sakwa R.,
The End of the Epoch of Revolutions: the Anti-Revolutionary Revolutions of 1989 to 1991. – Polis. Political Studies. 1998. No5

Pantin I.K.,
To the question of the character of the October revolution. – Polis. Political Studies. 2013. No6



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