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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Armed Force, Regimes, Contention, and Democratization in Europe since 1650


Drawing on a lifetime of comparisons between French and British experiences, this essay clears ground for a more general explanation of variation in the impact of regimes on contention, and vice versa, over Europe as a whole since 1650. Differences among Swiss, British, French, Dutch, Iberian, and other European experiences with regime change and contention set challenging empirical, conceptual, and theoretical problems. Considering the great variety of European trajectories, how can we possibly pinpoint important similarities and differences in the interplay among changes in social environments, alterations in governmental forms, histories of contentious politics, and approaches to (or retreats from) democracy? How can we single out the effects of varying patterns of military activity? What concepts will help discipline those comparisons and single out significant causal mechanisms? To what extent can we identify recurrent cause-effect relationships that operated throughout the range of European history since 1650? This paper's task is to lay out tools for pursuit of those questions.

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