The J-curve hypothesis is one of the best-known theoretical attempts in sociology and political science to specify the conditions under which perceived victims of injustice will rise up against the social system to engage in collective rebellion. First proposed by James C. Davies in 1962, it suggests that social and political unrest is most likely to occur when a prolonged period of improvement in living conditions is followed by a brief but sharp period of decline.

The basic argument is that persistent growth and improvement leads people to develop psychological expectations that things will continue to get better. When such expectations are suddenly thwarted, people experience an intolerable gap between what they have come to expect and the realities of their circumstances. At this point, Davies ...

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