My current project is a meta-analysis of five decades of comparative studies of revolution. I first examine the “how” of the field: how cases are selected and compared. I explore the “why” of the resulting demography by considering who produces knowledge about revolution and their connections to each other. I then consider the “what” of the field's true findings: which theories apply to which revolutions, and which causal factors have the most explanatory power across many cases. With thanks to Lisa Anne Auerbach for weaving my bookshelves.
It is time to advance the next generation of revolution studies. We document the shift from "big R" Revolution to "small r" revolutions that target regimes, not states, and have goals for individuals, not societies. The book explains why elections are revolutionary opportunities, why contention is increasingly unarmed, and how moderation limits outcomes. We sketch how revolution studies can incorporate findings from adjacent fields such as international relations, terrorism, and social movements. It concludes with methodological, ethical, and theoretical advice for scholars of revolution.
Social movements, revolutions, and terrorism share similar causes and processes. In my first book, I consider eight key questions for understanding radicalism. Ranging across the globe from the 1500s to the present, diverse cases are examined, e.g., 19th century anarchists, fascists, Che Guevara, the Weather Underground, Chechen insurgents, the Earth Liberation Front, Al-Qaeda, and the Arab Spring. Throughout, I demonstrate how to draw on multiple areas of research to better explain the forms movements take. The book is based on a seminar of the same name I have taught since 2010. Available from Amazon, Powell’s, Waterstones, and Wiley.
My primary area of expertise is revolutions. In my work on revolutionary waves, I find that cultural constructions of the transnational system strain regimes, fracture elites, and empower oppositions as well as make cross-national diffusion more likely. Articles published in Theory and Society and Social Science History have won awards from sections of the American Sociological Association.
An interest in revolution almost necessarily leads to its contemporary counterparts: radicalism and terrorism. I use insights from sociology and social movement theory to explain different aspects of political violence. Currently, I am extending my research on terrorism designations to understand media labeling of militant groups.
I also work in the area of global and transnational sociology. My research here explores the dynamics of the international system. Gili Drori, John Meyer, and I continue to investigate human rights in national constitutions.
I am an associate professor at Pomona College in Claremont, California, and a faculty affiliate of the International Relations Program. My research lies in the areas of political and global-transnational sociology with quantitative and comparative-historical approaches. I am particularly interested in cases of social movement radicalism, such as revolution and terrorism.
At Pomona, I co-founded the Social Science Research Confab. I teach courses on social movements, global sociology, research methods, and social theory, as well as introduction to sociology and senior seminar.