FACTOID # 21: 15% of Army recruits from South Dakota are Native American, which is roughly the same percentage for female Army recruits in the state.
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Encyclopedia > Modernization

Modernization (also Modernisation) is a concept in the sphere of social sciences that refers to process in which society goes through industrialization, urbanization and other social changes that completely transforms the lives of individuals. The social sciences are groups of academic disciplines that study the human aspects of the world. ...

The concept of modernization comes from a view of societies as having a standard evolutionary pattern, as described in the social evolutionism theories. According to this each society would evolve inexorably from barbarism to ever greater levels of development and civilization. The more modern states would be wealthier and more powerful, and their citizens freer and having 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 restricting development. Maintaining tradition for tradition's sake was thought to be harmful to progress and development. This article is about evolution in biology. ... Social Evolutionism is a athropological and sociological social theory that holds that societies progress through stages of increasing development, i. ... Talcott Parsons Talcott Parsons (December 13, 1902–May 8, 1979) was for many years the best-known sociologist in the United States, and indeed one of the best-known in the world. ...

This approach has been heavily criticized, mainly because it conflated modernization with Westernization. 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, as modernization began in Europe 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). This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Culture (Culture from the Latin cultura stemming from colere, meaning to cultivate,) generally refers to patterns of human activity and the symbolic structures that give such activity significance. ... Eurocentrism is the practice, conscious or otherwise, of placing emphasis on European (and, generally, Western) concerns, culture and values at the expense of those of other cultures. ...

According to the Social theorist Peter Wagner (Social theorist), 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 dated laws, which make modernization necessary or preferable. 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 latter 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. Modernization is most likely one of the most influential happenings in society. Peter Wagner is a German social theorist. ...

See also

World-systems analysis is not a theory, but an approach to social analysis and social change developed principally by Immanuel Wallerstein, with major contributions by Samir Amin, Giovanni Arrighi and Andre Gunder Frank. ...


  • Modernization as Ideology by Michael E. Latham Copyright (c) 2000 by the University of North Carolina Press

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