Structure and example in modular political phenomena: The diffusion of bulldozer/rose/orange/tulip revolutions

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The article develops an approach to the study of modular political phenomena (action based in significant part on emulation of the prior successful example of others), focusing on the trade-offs between the influence of example, structural facilitation, and institutional constraints. The approach is illustrated through the example of the spread of democratic revolution in the post-communist region during the 2000-2006 period, with significant comparisons to the diffusion of separatist nationalism in the Soviet Union during the glasnost'era. Two models by which modular processes unfold are specified: an elite defection model and an elite learning model. In both models the power of example is shown to exert an independent effect on outcomes, although the effect is considerably deeper in the former than in the latter case. The elite defection model corresponds to the institutional responses to separatist nationalism under glasnost', while the elite learning model describes well the processes involved in die spread modular democratic revolution among later risers in the post-communist region, limiting the likelihood of further revolutionary successes. The article concludes with some thoughts about the implications of the power of example for the study of modular phenomena such as democratization, nationalism, and revolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-276
Number of pages18
JournalPerspectives on Politics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Political Science and International Relations


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