Modernization

From Academic Kids

Modernization is the process of changing the conditions of a society, an organization or another group of people in ways that change the privileges of that group according to modern technology or modern knowledge.

Modernization is closely linked to classical liberalism. The concept of modernization comes from a view of societies as having a standard evolutionary pattern. Each society would steadily evolve from barbarism to ever greater levels of development and civilization. The more modern states would be wealthier, more powerful, and their citizens would be freer and have a higher standard of living. This was the standard view in the social sciences for many decades with its foremost advocate being Talcott Parsons. This theory stressed the importance of societies being open to change and saw reactionary forces as ones restricting development. Maintaining tradition for traditions sake would harm progress and development.

This approach has been heavily criticized mainly because in conflated modernization with Westernization. The modernization of a society requires the destruction of the indigenous culture and its replacement by a western 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 unmondernized societies as inferior as 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.

According to the sociologist Peter Wagner, modernization can be seen as processes, and as offencives. While the former is commonly used by politicians and media, it suggests that it is the things (like e.g. new data technology or dated laws) which make modernization necessary or preferable. This view makes critique of modernization kind of hard, since it implies that it is the things which should, and do, control the frames and limits for human interaction, and not vice versa. The latter, Modernization offencives, is acknowledging that both the things and the changes e.g. data technology make available, is shaped and controlled by human agents. Modernization as offencives is then a product of human planning and acting, an active process, which can be both changed and criticized.de:Modernisierung nl:Modernisering no:Modernisering zh:现代化

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