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26 J. Conflict Resol. 3 (1982)

handle is hein.journals/jcfltr26 and id is 1 raw text is: 

Scarcity and Inequality


Department of Political Science
University of Colorado, Boulder

   This study examines the relationship between scarcity and inequality, especially in the
comparison between the behavior of agrarian and industrial societies. Specifically, we ask
why it is that major revolutions almost always occur in predominantly agrarian societies
but almost never in industrial ones. Whereas industrialized countries experience increased
equality with increased abundance, and follow a hypothesized curvilinear function, this is
not true for agrarian societies as evidenced in three data sets. Redistributive and
authenticating revolutions follow from the scarcity condition. Exponential distributions
of landholdings and increased inequality are found to apply in agrarian, prerevolutionary
situations. Land inequality is a potent predictor of mass revolution. Population growth is
found to be a major source of inequality, and the emergence of inequality even in advanced
industrial societies suggests certain similarities with the early stages of the agrarian sector.
Thus, the future stability of the more industrialized countries may be threatened.

   In  recent years, the importance  of agrarian  social structure has come
to be emphasized   in the study of revolution. This is seen in Paige's (1975)
analysis  of agrarian  revolution,  Skocpol's  (1979)  treatment  of  major
revolutions   of  the contemporary period, and Trimberger's (1978)
analysis  of the consequences   of revolution.  Despite  the now  prevalent
understanding of major revolutions such as the French, Russian, or
Chinese   as  having  arisen  in  predominantly agrarian societies with

   AUTHOR'S NOTE: An earlier version   of this article was presented at the Annual
Meeting of the Peace  Science Society (International), Western Section, Stanford,
California, February 26-27, 1979, and incorporates material presented at the Annual
Meeting of the American Sociological Association, Boston, Massachusetts, August 27-31,
and the American Political Science Association, Washington, D.C.,August 31-September

JOURNAL   OF CONFLICT  RESOLUTION,  Vol. 26 No. 1, March 1982 3-38
@ 1982 Sage Publications, Inc.


from the SAGE Social Science Collections. All Rights Reserved.

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