Difference Between Reform and Revolution

Reform vs Revolution
 

The difference between Reform and revolution stems from the methods they use to achieve the results they desire. History bears evidence to various reforms and revolutions that have taken place world over. These have been the means of making changes within the power structure of a society. A reform can be viewed as an instance where changes have been made to the existing power structure. It does not completely overthrow a government but works within the power structure. On the other hand, a revolution completely rejects the prevailing power structure for a new one. It disrupts the existing status quo by adopting drastic measures. The French revolution can be taken as an example. Unlike a revolution, a reform is rather low paced. It only brings about moderate changes. This highlights that reforms and revolutions are different from one another. Through this article let us examine the differences between a reform and a revolution.

What is a Reform?

Reform can be simply defined as improving by making changes in the existing conditions. This includes modification made in laws, practices, policies, etc. without completely overthrowing a government. Reforms usually do not involve creating drastic changes. In a reform, the power structure of a country remains the same even though modifications are made. These modifications are made with the aim of creating more stability. Reforms can be brought with the intention of eradicating pressing social issues such as poverty, homelessness, drug usage, etc. While some reforms can bring about positive changes in a society, others remain ineffective or even worsen the situation.

Difference Between Reform and Revolution

Great Reform Act in 1832

During the later part of the 18th century, when Industrialization was very high in England, the working conditions of the common man were very low. The number of hours that people had to work was excessive, which resulted in poor health conditions. The reforms that came about during this period, which restricted the number of working hours and improved the working conditions of the people, can be considered as an instance where reforms were effective and had a positive impact on the people.

What is a Revolution?

Revolution can be defined as the overthrow of a government by force, in favor of a new system. Unlike a reform, this includes making drastic changes. Also, a revolution completely topples the prevailing power structure. It does not operate at a moderate pace and is not peaceful. A revolution works towards the destruction of a status quo.

The French revolution in 1789 can be considered as an example of a revolution. During this period, people were fed up of the existing power structure and of the insurmountable taxation, which led people to the overthrow of the power structure.

 Reform vs Revolution

This highlights that a revolution is very much different from a reform as they can be even considered as two opposing stances.

What is the difference between Reform and Revolution?

• Definition of Reform and Revolution

• A reform can be viewed as an instance where changes have been made to the existing power structure in order to improve it.

• A revolution completely rejects the prevailing power structure for a new one.

• Level of Changes and Reversibility

• In reform, changes are, usually, not drastic and can be reversed.

• In revolution, the changes are always radical.

• Intentions

• A reform works towards the stability of the existing order and has the intention of eradicating pressing social issues and bringing positive changes in society.

• A revolution works against the existing order with the intention of bringing a total change in the structure.

• Effect on the Power Structure

• A reform does not disrupt the existing status quo though changes are made.

• A revolution disrupts the existing status quo by adopting drastic measures.

• General Perception

• Reform has a positive connotation.

• Revolutions carry a negative connotation as they are not peaceful, most of the time.

 

Images Courtesy: Great Reform Act in 1832  and the storming of the Bastille via Wikicommons (Public Domain)