On the reasons of radical forms of social protest: Reflections about principles of ‘Malthusian trap’ and demographic factors


The article considers reasons for radical mass forms of social protest in the context of the ‘Malthusian trap’ and structural-demographic theory of Jack Goldstone, which have become popular in the last two decades. The author critically evaluates these two conceptions and comes to the conclusion that the principles they underline are just concomitant factors, i.e. additional risk factors for political systems and regimes, rather than causes of radical mass forms of social protest. The author suggests a method of analysis that consists of studying the circumstances, i.e. the wide historical context, in which mass forms of social protest usually emerge, and provides a large number of illustrative examples. The scientific approach to the identification of social-historical determinants of radical forms of social protest implies that if something is a reason/cause of an event, then this reason/cause must be present whenever there is such an event both alone or within a complex of concomitant factors. The ‘Malthusian trap’ and demographic factors cannot be traced in all manifestations of radical mass forms of social protest in modern and contemporary history. Moreover, the ‘Malthusian trap’ and demographic pressure on the economy and social system do not always lead to mass forms of social protest. The wave of radical forms of social protest in the last decade, i.e. the so-called ‘color revolutions’, ‘Arab spring’, protest actions in France, England and the USA, once again confirms the relevance of the author’s approach and the importance of critical study of the traditional conceptions.

E E Shults

<p>Center for Political and Social Technologies</p>

B. Filevskaya St., 55-1, Moscow, Russia, 121433

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