Difference Between Reform and Revolution

Change is the only constant. It is inevitable. It brings new opportunities and innovation. The political system should be active and improving for any society to function efficiently.


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Political stillness can cause discontentment and demand for change. The two most common types of changes are reforms and revolutions.

Key Takeaways

  1. Reforms involve gradual changes to improve a system, while revolutions entail radical, rapid transformations.
  2. Reformers work within an existing framework, but revolutionaries aim to overthrow and replace it.
  3. Reforms generally maintain social stability, whereas revolutions can lead to significant upheaval and disruption.

Reform vs Revolution

Reformation refers to the positive modification and improvement made to an existing system that is wrong and corrupt. The changes are made by following peaceful resolutions and mutual decisions. Revolution refers to the violent and raging act of overthrowing an existing system to bring about new changes.

Reform vs Revolution

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Reform functions at a low pace and promotes peace and mutual decision. It does not involve any drastic changes. The central system remains the same only certain modifications are made.

These modifications aim to the creation of stability. Reforms generally have a positive effect on society.

On the other hand, a revolution completely overthrows the existing system and adopts drastic measures. The revolution aims to establish a new system.

The pace of a revolution is moderate to high, and the approach is not peaceful. The greatest example of revolution is the French Revolution of 1789.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonReformRevolution
Definition Reform refers to the amendment and improvement made in an existing system that is wrong, unsatisfactory, or even corrupt.Revolution can be referred to as an act to resist any existing system and bring about changes violently.
Word derivation The word reform is derived from a Latin word called “reformo” The word revolution is derived from a Latin word called “revolutio”
Nature Frequent, gradual and peaceful Rapid, rare and violent
Consequences Bring improvisation into the existing system Discard the existing system and establish a new structure
Reversibility The changes can be reversed The changes cannot be reversed

What is Reform?

Reform refers to the amendment and improvement made in an existing system that is wrong, unsatisfactory, or even corrupt.

The word gained popularity after the movement of the 18th century called Christopher Wyvill’s Association movement, whose aim was Parliamentary reform. The word reform is derived from a Latin word called “reformo”.

Reforms can occur in various sectors.

It can be in civil service, macroeconomic policy, or public financial management. There can be reforms on several bills, acts, or upon distribution of parliamentary seats. Another nation-building reform is electoral reform that promotes democracy.

Any social movement which aims to bring reform of any level in society is called reformism or simply reform movement. It has a radical approach to the social movement.

Some of the major reform movements are of the United States from 1840 – 1930, Ottoman Empire from 1840 – 1870, Mexico in 1850 called La Reforma, Russia in the 1860s, and even Turkey from 1920s -1930s.

Reform improves the existing structure and achieves social and political changes but does not overthrow any existing order or system. There can be different approaches to bring about reform.

Politicians commonly use reforms as strategies to gain votes and trust, as the reforms address the insecurities of the people.


What is Revolution?

Revolution can be referred to as an act to resist any existing system and bring about changes violently. It disrupts the existing system entirely and establishes a new structure.

It overthrows the status with radical force. It is derived from a Latin word called “revolutio”, which means a turnaround. Revolutions do not follow or work within a power structure.

The revolution aims to overthrow the existing structure and establish an improved and new structure. The change brought by a revolution is drastic and violent. It does not provide any time to blend and adapt to the changes.

Because of the nature of revolution, the changes brought about are irreversible and uncontrollable. It also has a backlashing effect on many social groups.

Most of the revolutions are political.

Some common historical examples of revolution are the American Revolution, French Revolution, Russian Revolution, The Industrial Revolution, Green Industrial Revolution, Cybernetic Revolution, Neolithic Revolution, and many other revolutions.

The period from the 18th to the mid-19th century is called the Age of Revolution. This era marked several significant revolutionary movements.

There were numerous outcomes from this period, but the most significant is the end of feudalism and the implementation of Republicanism. The American Revolution is considered the initial point of influence for the Age of Revolution.


Main Differences Between Reform and Revolution

  1. Reform is changes made in the existing structure, while revolutions are disrupting the existing system and establishing a completely new system.
  2. Reform brings innovative and improved changes, while revolutions bring radical changes.
  3. Reform follows a peaceful approach to establishing change, while revolution follows a violent approach to peace establishment.
  4. Reforms have a gradual nature and provide time to adapt to the change, while revolution has a sudden drastic nature and does not provide any time to blend with the changes.
  5. Reforms can function within a power structure, while revolutions reject any prevailing power structure or system.
Difference Between Reform and Revolution
  1. https://stars.library.ucf.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1268&context=prism
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