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Discuss The Main Features Of Two Theories Of Development

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Category: Social Issues

Autor: anton 03 April 2011

Words: 1069 | Pages: 5

Modernity is defined as the state or quality of being modern and the theories of development have emerged as a result of this concept. Sociology and Modernity developed hand in hand and were based on similar foundations. Rational forms of thought and organisation; a belief in the ability and right of humans to shape and control their own lives; faith that technology and science could fix human problems and reliance upon manufacturing industries to improve living standards are some of the concepts involved in Modernity. Life in the present through improvement and progress is fundamentally different than life in the past. For most of its history, sociological thinking has been dominated by this approach, however, some analysts, including sociologists, believes that the era of Modernity is or has been replaced by the post – modern era.

Two of theories I will discuss emerged from Modernity, they are the Modernisation and Dependency theories.

Modernisation Theory

Modernisation is the term used for the transition from traditional societies of the past to modern societies as they are found today in the West. Modernisation theory refers to the perspectives put forward to explain the development or underdevelopment of countries. Modern societies are marked by high production, high consumption,

individualism, liberal democracy, specialisation, the model of modernity is

the West, in particular the USA.

Modernisation Theory employs a fundamental distinction between traditional and modern society - all societies can be located on an evolutionary scale which runs from traditional feudal type societies to modern industrial societies - a society can be positioned on this scale according to its stage of development. Underdevelopment is located internally within an undeveloped country.

Modernisation theory offers an account of the common features of the process of development drawing on the analysis of Durkheim and Weber. Development implies the bridging of these gaps by an imitative process, occurring in stages, such that traditional societies gradually assume the qualities of the modern western countries.

All societies follow a common, linear path to modernity, passing through according to W W Rostow 5 recognizable stages along the way.

Traditional Modern

Sudan____________________________________________ USA

Simple Highly complex

Society Industrial Society

Social change is unidirectional, from primitive to an advanced state; the fate of human evolution is predetermined. The movement towards the final phase is good because it represents progress, humanity and civilization defined in accordance with Western cultural parameters. Social change is evolutionary not revolutionary.

Modernisation theory may be useful in helping us to understand a society better if we can identify its stage of development. Governments may develop polices and identify and remove barriers to development. Imitation of modern countries will eventually see a rationally society progress into a modern more advanced society.

However a persistent feature of this theory is that traditional societies are viewed as inferior. The West is superior because it has evolved and the rest are therefore inferior because they have not yet. Modernisation theory places developed countries against developing countries. It abolishes history. It is ethnocentric, but is the West / US worthy models?

Dependency theorists on the other had who were highly influenced by Marxism, argued that the development of the First World and the underdevelopment of the Third world were merely opposite sides of the same coin. The west was rich precisely because the South was poor. The also argued that the West had developed by exploiting the Third world especially during the era of colonialism and the relationship between the First World and the Third World was not benign but rather characterised by exploitation and domination. Rather than lighting the way for peripheral or less developed countries, developed or core countries have established as a result of exploitative historical relationships with peripheral countries.

An influential proponent of the Dependency theory has been Andre Gubder Frank. Frank argues that underdevelopment is not basically a consequence of traditionalism. Rather, he argues that underdevelopment in Latin America-and by extension, parts of Africa and Asia- has been systematically created by colonist exploitation.

Core countries in the West changed and impoverished many peripheral countries through colonialism, imperialism and extractive terms of trade. Exploitation of various regions for their raw materials and labour often in the form of slavery impoverished peripheral countries and made the dependant on the core countries

In the West. Others point out that it is the other way around; the West has been dependent on the Third world through out history to grow and prosper.

It is argued that this theory is too vague and it has been outstripped by events.

The distinction in many cases between core and peripheral countries is not so clear.

Ireland is an example of a peripheral country that has developed into a more or less post industrial society. It is argued that is taking a huge natural resource from the Philippines by taking nurses trained at great expense by that country.

Is the Dependency theory too simplistic to be of use in the complex world of today.

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