Perspectives on Politics

Structure and Example in Modular Political Phenomena: The Diffusion of Bulldozer/Rose/Orange/Tulip Revolutions

Mark R.  Beissinger  a1
a1 Princeton University, E-mail:

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The article develops an approach to the study of modular political phenomena (action based in significant part on emulation of the prior successful example of others), focusing on the trade-offs between the influence of example, structural facilitation, and institutional constraints. The approach is illustrated through the example of the spread of democratic revolution in the post-communist region during the 2000–2006 period, with significant comparisons to the diffusion of separatist nationalism in the Soviet Union during the glasnost' era. a


a Mark R. Beissinger is Professor of Politics, Princeton University ( The author is grateful to the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison for the opportunity to pursue research for this essay. He would also like to thank Nancy Bermeo, Valerie Bunce, Atul Kohli, Jon Pevehouse, Grigore Pop-Eleches, Edward Schatz, Jack Snyder, Al Stepan, Joshua Tucker, and two anonymous reviewers for their feedback on an earlier version of this article.