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The Role of Ideas in Social Change

Moore’s groundbreaking work Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy (1966), was the cornerstone to what is now called comparative historical analysis in the social sciences. In that work he studied the conditions for the sociogenesis of democraticfascist and communist regimes, looking especially at the ways in which industrialization and the pre-existing agrarian regimes interacted to produce those different political outcomes. He drew particular attention to the violence which preceded the development of democratic institutions.Moore lists five conditions for the development of Western-style democracy (through a “bourgeois revolution“):[the “development of a balance to avoid too strong a crown or too independent a landed aristocracy”a shift toward “an appropriate form of commercial agriculture”a “weakening of the landed aristocracy”the “prevention of an aristocratic-bourgeois coalition against the peasants and workers” [which would lead to fascism]a “revolutionary break with the past”.Moore’s concern was the transformation of pre-industrial agrarian social relations into “modern” ones.