A deconstruction of the term "revolution"

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 16
  • SDG 5
  • Abstract:

    The precise meaning of the concept of (political) revolution remains semantically contested. According to Arslanian (2013:127) this concept “is often used liberally, applied to everything from the ‘Social Media Revolution’ to the ‘Sexual Revolution’”. Brinton (1965:1-4) agrees, referring to revolution as a concept that “troubles the semanticist not only because of its wide range in popular usage, but also because it is one of those words charged with emotional content”. In some instances revolution even becomes a “holy word” with an a priori moral force which sets preconditions for moral righteousness. It seems that “the revolution” can become just as important as a religion would be. This same revolution/religion also provides the opportunity to gain material and immaterial goods for human-kind (Marcuse, 2001:123). Koselleck (as quoted by Marinelli; 2014:8) argues that the semantics of the concept revolution is by no means unequivocal. The goal of this article therefore is to address the semantic vagueness of the political concept of revolution through a literature analysis, subsequently listing observable characteristics of the phenomenon. As such, this article is a theoretical effort contributing to what Babbie and Mouton (2008:113) call the hermeneutic cycle of ever-deepening understanding in which the different observables of revolution will be arrived at via the deconstruction of various definitions from wide-ranging schools of thought and ideas of revolution.