Public Choice

, Volume 61, Issue 1, pp 41–74

Sparks and prairie fires: A theory of unanticipated political revolution

  • Timur Kuran

DOI: 10.1007/BF00116762

Cite this article as:
Kuran, T. Public Choice (1989) 61: 41. doi:10.1007/BF00116762


A feature shared by certain major revolutions is that they were not anticipated. Here is an explanation, which hinges on the observation that people who come to dislike their government are apt to hide their desire for change as long as the opposition seems weak. Because of this preference falsification, a government that appears unshakeable might see its support crumble following a slight surge in the opposition's apparent size, caused by events insignificant in and of themselves. Unlikely though the revolution may have appeared in foresight, it will in hindsight appear inevitable because its occurrence exposes a panoply of previously hidden conflicts.

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Timur Kuran
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos Angeles

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