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Periphery Praetorianism in Cliometric Perspective 1855-1985

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image of International Journal of Comparative Sociology
For more content, see Comparative Sociology.

Violent attempts by military forces to assume state power have been common throughout history. In recent centuries, however, the phenomenon has seemed more prevalent and seemingly systematic, especially in developing or "periphery" nations. Whereas modernization theory views coup attempts as deviant happenings occurring randomly on the periphery's road to democratic development, world-system theory implies a more structured set of events. Hypotheses concerning the trending and cycling of coups are derived from the world-system perspective. Accordingly, coups are expected to have increased over time, and to have accelerated in years of Kondratieff contractions, hegemonic demise, and colonial decline. The hypotheses are tested with data on 34 periphery nations for 1855-1985, using controls for nonelite turmoil, terror, and revolution. Coup attempts revealed substantial secular trending. Little cyclical variation was evident, although unsuccessful coups were somewhat more widespread in Kondratieff expansions, and successful coups were more prevalent in years of extensive terrorist activities. The findings provide little evidence for the modernizationist school, but some moderate support for the world-system perspective.

Affiliations: 1: Social Science Division, Alfred University, Alfred, New York 14802, U.S.A.


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