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In the social sciences, Modernization refers to a standardized evolutionary transition from a 'pre-modern' or 'traditional' to a 'modern' society. The teleology of modernization is described in social evolutionism theories, existing as a template that has been generally followed by societies that have achieved modernity.[1][2] Critics say it may be possible for some societies to make the transition in entirely different ways.

Historians link modernization to the processes of urbanization and industrialization, as well as to the spread of education. As Kendall (2007) notes, "Urbanization accompanied modernization and the rapid process of industrialization.[3] In sociological critical theory, modernization is linked to an overarching process of rationalisation.

Modernization theory and history have been explicitly used as guides for countries eager to develop rapidly, such as China. Indeed, modernization has been proposed as the most useful framework for World history in China, because as one of the developing countries that started late, "China's modernization has to be based on the experiences and lessons of other countries."[4].

Contents

Theory

According to theories of modernization, each society can in theory develop from traditionalism to modernity, and that those which have made the transition have followed similar paths. The more modern states are wealthier and more powerful, and their citizens freer and having a higher standard of living. According to the Social theorist Peter Wagner, modernization can be seen as processes, and as offensives. The former view is commonly projected by politicians and the media, and suggests that it is developments, such as new data technology or need to update traditional methods, which make modernization necessary or preferable.[5] This view makes critique of modernization difficult, since it implies that it is these developments which control the limits of human interaction, and not vice versa.

The view of modernization as offensives argues that both the developments and the altered opportunities made available by these developments are shaped and controlled by human agents. The view of modernization as offensives therefore sees it as a product of human planning and action, an active process capable of being both changed and criticized.[5]

Modernization emerged in the late 19th century and was especially popular among scholars in the mid-20th century. One foremost advocate was Harvard sociologist Talcott Parsons.[6] The theory stressed the importance of societies being open to change and saw reactionary forces as restricting development. Maintaining tradition for tradition's sake was thought to be harmful to progress and development.[5] Proponents of modernization lie in two camps, optimists and pessimist. The former view what a modernizer would see as a setback to the theory (events such as the Iranian Revolution or the troubles in Lebanon) as temporary setbacks,[7] with the ability to attain "modernism" still existing. Pessimists would argue that such non-modern areas are incapable of becoming modern.[8]

Practice

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United States

The Progressives in the United States in the early 20th century were avid modernizers. They believed in science, technology, expertise—and especially education—as the grand solution to society's weaknesses. Characteristics of progressivism included a favorable attitude toward urban-industrial society, belief in mankind's ability to improve the environment and conditions of life, belief in obligation to intervene in economic and social affairs, and a belief in the ability of experts and in efficiency of government intervention.[9]

Asia

Many studies of modernization have focused on the history of Japan in the late 19th century[10], and China and India in the late 20th century[11]. For example, the process of borrowing science and technology from the West has been explored.

Korea

Modernizers in Korea in the late 19th century were torn between the American and the Japanese models. Most were Christians who said the United States as their ideal model of civilization. However, most took Japan as a practical model - as an example of how a fellow East Asian country, which was supposedly 30 years ago even more backward than Korea, could succeed in civilizing itself. At the same time, reformists' nationalist reaction against the domineering, colonial behavior of the Japanese toward Korea often took the form of an appeal to international (Western) standards of civilization. The Western-oriented worldview of the early Christian nationalist reformers was complex, multilayered, and often self-contradictory - with 'oppressive' features not easily distinguishable from 'liberational' ones. Their prettified, essentialized picture of the West as the only true, ideal civilization could be oppressive when relegating Korea's traditional culture to a position of 'barbarism' but emancipatory when used as the yardstick for criticism of Japanese encroachment.[12]

The self-image of Koreans was formed through complex relationships with modernity, colonialism, and nationalism. This formation was initiated by a change in the notion of 'civilization' due to the transformation of 'international society' and thereafter was affected by the trauma of Japanese colonization. Through the process of transition from a traditional Confucian notion of civilization to a Western notion of acceptance and resistance, Koreans shaped their civilization as well as their notions of the racial, cultural, and individual modern self. Western Orientalism, in particular, accompanied the introduction of the Western notion of civilization, which served as the background for forming the self-identity of Koreans. The fact that the Japanese version of Orientalism developed in the midst of the relationship between the two countries also played a critical role in shaping the self-identity of Koreans. Consequently, Korea still maintains an inferiority complex toward Western culture, ambivalent feelings toward Japanese culture, and biased - positive or negative - views of their own cultural traditions. Thus both modernization and colonization can shape and impact the formation or distortion of self-consciousness of non-Western peoples.[13]

The US launched a decades-long intensive development starting in 1945 to modernize South Korea, with the goal of helping it become a model nation-state and an economic success. Agents of modernization at work in Korea included the US Army, the Economic Cooperation Administration, the UN Korean Reconstruction Agency, and a number of nongovernmental organizations, among them the Presbyterian Church, the YMCA, Boy Scouts and the Ford Foundation.[14]

Latin America

Since independence, modernization has been a driving force for Chile's political elites. Ree (2007) analyzes projects of modernization that have been implemented from above since 1964. Despite their ideological differences and very different understandings of what modernity is, these projects shared key characteristics in their construction and implementation, such as the use of developmental theories, their state-orientation, the prominent role of technocrats and state-planning, and the capacity of adaptation in sight of civil unrest. These projects have produced patterns of modernity that have proven to be particularly stable.[15]

Democracy and human rights

Highly contentious is the idea that modernization implies more human rights, with China being a major text case. Inglehart, and Welzel (2009) contend that the realization of democracy is not based solely on an expressed desire for that form of government, but that democracies are born as a result of the admixture of certain social and cultural factors. They argue the ideal social and cultural conditions for the foundation of a democracy are born of significant modernization and economic development that result in mass political participation.[16]

Peerenboom (2008) explores the relationships among democracy, the rule of law and their relationship to wealth by pointing to examples of Asian countries, such as Taiwan and South Korea, that have successfully democratized only after economic growth reached relatively high levels and to examples of countries such as the Philippines, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia and India that sought to democratize at lower levels of wealth but have not done as well. [17]

Adam Przeworski and other political scientists have challenged Seymour Martin Lipset's key hypothesis in modernization theory: political regimes do not transition to democracy as per capita incomes rise. Rather, democratic transitions occur randomly, but once there, countries with higher levels of gross domestic product per capita remain democratic. Epstein et al. (2006) retest the modernization hypothesis using new data, new techniques, and a three-way, rather than dichotomous, classification of regimes. Contrary to Przeworski, this study finds that the modernization hypothesis stands up well. Partial democracies emerge as among the most important and least understood regime types.[18]

Criticism

Modernization theory has been criticized, mainly because it conflated modernization with Westernization.[1] In this model, the modernization of a society required the destruction of the indigenous culture and its replacement by a more Westernized one. Technically modernity simply refers to the present, and any society still in existence is therefore modern. Proponents of modernization typically view only Western society as being truly modern arguing that others are primitive or unevolved by comparison. This view sees unmodernized societies as inferior even if they have the same standard of living as western societies. Opponents of this view argue that modernity is independent of culture and can be adapted to any society. Japan is cited as an example by both sides. Some see it as proof that a thoroughly modern way of life can exist in a non-western society. Others argue that Japan has become distinctly more western as a result of its modernization. In addition, this view is accused of being Eurocentric,[1][2] as modernization began in Europe with the industrial revolution, the French Revolution and the Revolutions of 1848,[2][8] and has long been regarded as reaching its most advanced stage in Europe (by Europeans), and in Europe overseas (USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand etc).[2] Anthropologists typically make their criticism one step further generalized and say that this view is ethnocentric, not being specific to Europe, but Western culture in general.[1]

See also

Further reading

  • Bernstein, H. (1971). "Modernization theory and the sociological study of development". Journal of Development Studies. 
  • Black, Cyril. The Dynamics of Modernization: A Study in Comparative History (1966)
  • Black, Cyril. The Modernization of Japan and Russia (1975)
  • Brown, Richard D. Modernization: The Transformation of American Life, 1600-1865 (1976)
  • Brown, Richard D. "Modernization and the Modern Personality in Early America, 1600-1865: A Sketch of a Synthesis" Journal of Interdisciplinary History (1972 Win) 2:201-28 in JSTOR
  • Brugger, Bill; Kate Hannan (1983). Modernization and revolution. Routledge. ISBN 0709906951. 
  • Dixon, Simon M. (1999). The modernisation of Russia, 1676-1825. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 052137961X. 
  • Eisenstadt, S. N. ed. The Protestant Ethic and Modernization: A Comparative View (1968)
  • Gavrov, Sergey (2005). "The phenomenon of modernization". Filozofia bliższa życiu. ISBN 8388953761. 
  • Gilman, Nils. Mandarins of the Future: Modernization Theory in Cold War America (2003). 329 pp
  • Inglehart, Ronald, and Christian Welzel. Modernization, Cultural Change, and Democracy: The Human Development Sequence by Ronald Inglehart and Christian Welzel (2005) excerpt and text search, euses comparative political science; emphasizes importance of having a modern personality
  • Jensen, Richard. Illinois: A History (2001), modenizers, traditionalists and post-moderns make state history
  • Jensen, Richard. "On Modernizing Frederick Jackson Turner: The Historiography of Regionalism" Western History Quarterly (1980) 11:307-22 in JSTOR
  • Khan, Joel S. (2001). Modernity and exclusion. SAGE. ISBN 0761966579. 
  • Leroy, Peter; Jan van Tatenhove (2000). "Political modernization theory and environmental politics". Environment and Global Modernity. 
  • Macionis, John J.; Ken Plummer (2008). Sociology (4th edition ed.). Pearson Education. ISBN 0132051583. 
  • McGuigan, Jim. Modernity and postmodern culture‎ (2006) 200 pages
  • Rodgers, Daniel T. "Tradition, Modernity, and the American Industrial Worker: Reflections and Critique," Journal of Interdisciplinary History 1977 Spring 7:655-81 in JSTOR
  • So, Alvin Y. Social Change and Development: Modernization, Dependency and World-System Theories (1990) 288pp textbook excerpt and text search
  • Tipps, Dean C. "Modernization Theory and the Comparative Study of Societies: A Critical Perspective" Comparative Studies in Society and History (1973) 15:199-226 influential criticism in JSTOR

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d Brugger and Hannan, p. 1–3.
  2. ^ a b c d Dixon, p. 1–4
  3. ^ Diana Kendall, Sociology in Our Times‎ (2007) p. 11
  4. ^ Qian Chengdan, "Constructing a New Disciplinary Framework of Modern World History Around the Theme of Modernization," Chinese Studies in History Spring 2009, Vol. 42#3 pp 7-24; in EBSCO
  5. ^ a b c Khan, p. 162–164.
  6. ^ Gilman, Mandarins of the Future (2003)
  7. ^ Brugger and Hannan, p. 43.
  8. ^ a b Macionis, p. 953.
  9. ^ John D. Buenker, and Robert M. Crunden. Progressivism (1986); Maureen Flanagan, America Reformed: Progressives and Progressivisms, 1890s-1920s (2007); Modernization theory exerts a "powerful influence" on historians dealing with the 1896-1916 era, asserts Martin J. Sklar, The United States as a developing country (1992) p. 54
  10. ^ Shuzo Teruoka, ed. Agriculture in the Modernization of Japan, 1850-2000 (2008); Cyril Black, The Modernization of Japan and Russia (1975)
  11. ^ Russell H. Jeffries, China's Agricultural Modernization (2009); June Grasso, Jay Cornin, and Michael Kort, Modernization and Revolution in China: From the Opium Wars to the Olympics (2009)
  12. ^ Vladimir Tikhonov, "The 1890s Korean Reformers' View of Japan - a Menacing Model?" International Journal of Asian Studies 2005 2(1): 57-81.
  13. ^ Yong-hwa Chung, "The Modern Transformation of Korean Identity: Enlightenment and Orientalism," Korea Journal 2006 46(1): 109-138
  14. ^ David Ekbladh, "How to Build a Nation," Wilson Quarterly 2004 28(1): 12-20.
  15. ^ Gerard Van Der Ree, "Modernisation in Chile: from the 'Revolution in Liberty' to 'Growth with Equity'," Bicentenario: Revista De Historia De Chile Y America 2007 6(2): 39-69
  16. ^ Ronald Inglehart and Christian Welzel, "How Development Leads to Democracy," Foreign Affairs Mar/Apr2009, Vol. 88 Issue 2, pp 33-48
  17. ^ Randall Peerenboom, China Modernizes: Threat to the West or Model for the Rest? (2008) p, 63. He suggests China will grant democracy human rights when it is as modern and as rich as the West per capita.
  18. ^ David L. Epstein, et al., "Democratic Transitions," American Journal of Political Science 2006 50(3): 551-569

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