According to Macionis (2010), the definition of modernization theory “is a model of economic and social development that explains global inequality in terms of technological and cultural differences between nations”. Modernization theory is a description, explanation, and account of the way of traditional and under established or underdeveloped societies, compared to more modern societies. Modernization is one of the most important perspectives in development and underdevelopment since the 1950s. Primary attention has focused on ways in which past and present modern societies become modern through the process of economic growth and change in community, educational, and supporting structures. Modernization is the process in which society experiences industrialization urbanization and many other social changes that transform the lives of the population. Social change has been, and probably will continue to be, a complex process that reflects the priorities we set for any nation as well as our will to achieve them.
Modernization has rapidly manifested itself through four distinct categories; the decline of small traditional communities, expansion of personal choice, increasing social diversity, and orientation toward the future and growing awareness. Society will continue to change as new technology is developed and new ideas are explored. Modernization can produce many rewarding results. On the other hand, according to some theorists it can be detrimental to certain societies. With modernization comes the decline of small traditional communities, the foothold to the once solidarity and meaning of society’s experience, weakened if not destroyed all together. For thousands of years, before the industrial revolutions, people lived in rural villages spread throughout the land. These societies revolved around family and neighbor, and valued traditions, where each person had a well-defined roll, a strong sense of identity, belonging and purpose.
Yet, the downside to life in these rural village’s people was that they had limited personal choice in what they could do. Some of the negative consequences of modernization are: it lessens the requirement for labor, creating job cuts. At one point in time, modernization became the problem of the environment pollution. You can see the detrimental effects from the industrial fog hanging above our large cities. This fog is caused mostly by automobiles and industrial plants. Prevalence of terrorism is also a consequence, and face-to-face social interaction is dwindling. Some of the positive consequences of modernization are: it reduces costs, improves the quality of goods, deliverance of goods is faster, efficiency level is higher, people stay healthy longer, communication is improved, and so forth.
With modernization in an area, comes the resistance from traditional people. Change is an uncomfortable thing for the older generations. Some people see modernization in a bad way because they feel that it has destroyed our traditional values. They might feel that the modern way of life has affected our rules and our principles. The term modernization is connected to technology, which does not affect cultural traditions exactly. Cell phones, for example, are not used in churches or temples, a place of tradition. The amount of information technology can bring however, will influence traditional thinking. Some say that one only has to turn on the local news to realize that never has it been clearer that the perceptions and values taught by our ancestors have fallen at the feet of modernization. Some people feel “too old” to learn the new ways of the world. Technology, as they see it, could possibly destroy human relationships.
The personal computer and internet have replaced the post cards and even the human conversations. Mobile messages have replaced the human voice. I believe that one can preserve all the traditions one wants, but with the rest of the world moving forward a balance can be established between tradition and modernization. Modernization is necessary if the country desires to be included in the economic development and advancements that are around us. Assuming that modernization is a systematic and transformative process, from an economic development perspective, accounting for the developmental stages of a society (traditional society, precondition for takeoff, the takeoff process, the drive to maturity, and high mass consumption), one could systematically modernize a Third World Country.
Countries in Latin America, Cambodia, and Laos, to name a few, stagnated in development due to their lack of productive investments and stood to benefit from mitigating efforts based out of the modernization theory. The modernization solution to their stagnation relied on the provision of aid to these countries in the form of capital, technology, and expertise. Once modernization takes hold of a society, it will never let go. People with knowledge want more. The more people know, the more they want to know, so yes modernization is here to stay. The trend has become a worldwide trend. However, there are many areas of the world that have yet to be touched by modernization and the ways of the modern world, but it is only a matter of time before they too are assimilated into the process and are unable to resist the impetus towards modernization.
Macionis, J. (2010). Soc 100: Sociology: 2011 custom edition (13th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ. (pp. 312-316). Google (2012). Modernization, Retrieved May 2, 2012 from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/387301/modernization
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