Alain Touraine 1 (Transl. by: Dmitry Karasyev 2 )
  • 1 School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, 190-198 Avenue de France, Paris, 75013, France
  • 2 Moscow State University, GSP-1 Leninskie Gory, Moscow, 119991, Russia

The Idea of Revolution

2014, vol. 13, No. 1, pp. 98–116 [issue contents]

Alain Touraine’s theory of revolution is so-called theory of the “end of revolution”. According to the author, while revolution was “the common trunk of the modern world”, universalism of reason (inherited from Enlightenment philosophy) and the understanding of modernity as a change are displaced with the particularism of identity-searching and the understanding of modernity as conflict, as a sustainable equilibrium transforming revolution into “anti-revolution”. The singularity of A. Touraine’s approach consists of the fact that he refuses to define revolution and social movements reciprocally, one through another, or to consider them as closely related, as does European tradition. “Sociology of action” offers the opposite vision. Where social movements do not appear (or in the absence of an “anti-movement”, as Touraine calls it), revolution is possible; conversely, where there are social movements, revolution cannot occur (although “anti-revolution” could take place). Revolution opposed social movements in the same way as the universalism of evolution opposed the particularism of history. Touraine defends the view of modernity as something in between these two oppositions. Modernity as a complex and conflict-filled “alloy” of the universalism of reason and technologies, and the particularism of cultural, national and class identities. The “end of the revolution” does not imply the end of history, the end of social change, the end of the politics, or the end of the non-institutional power struggle. Anti-revolution, of course, has revolutionary aspects, but the struggle of social movements with the pervasive influence of the large centralized State machinery is primarily defensive, not offensive in character, as it is in the case of the revolution Anti-revolution is not a struggle “for” power, or for reducing the distance between rulers and the ruled; it is “against” universalizing “programming”, and a struggle for “happiness” as an individualized (and often “populist”) vision of a society that corresponds to the group identity.

Citation: Touraine A. (2014) Ideya revolyutsii [The Idea of Revolution]. The Russian Sociological Review, vol. 13, no 1, pp. 98-116 (in Russian)
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