Thursday, January 12, 2023

What is modernization theory?

Modernization theory explained why certain countries were underdeveloped, specifically focusing on developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The theory had two main explanations for underdevelopment, one cultural and the other economic.

The cultural explanation argued that traditional values and cultural practices in developing countries hindered economic and social development. These traditional societies were seen as being stagnant and resistant to change, which hindered modernization and economic growth.

The economic explanation of underdevelopment focused on the lack of capital, technology, and resources. Proponents of this view argued that developing countries were underdeveloped because they lacked the economic resources and the investment necessary to modernize and industrialize their economies.

Both views proposed that Western-style modernization was the solution to breaking these cultural and economic barriers to development and becoming a modernized, developed nation. One of the key arguments of modernization theory is that developing countries needed to adopt the same path to development that the West had followed to become developed nations. According to the theory, this path involved the adoption of Western cultural values, such as democracy and individualism, as well as the industrialization of their economies.

The theory proposed that for less developed countries to follow this path, they would need assistance from Western governments and companies. This assistance would typically come in the form of aid and investment, which would provide the capital and resources necessary for these countries to modernize and industrialize their economies.

Modernization theorists believed that with the right help and support, these countries could achieve the same level of economic and social development as the developed world. The theory posits that the key to economic and social development in these countries is the adoption of Western, capitalist economic systems and the promotion of Western-style democratic institutions. 

Proponents of modernization theory argued that by adopting these Western models, developing countries could modernize their economies, improve living standards, and ultimately catch up to the developed world. The theory was often used to justify Western aid and intervention in developing countries, with the goal of promoting economic growth and political stability.

Modernization theory favoured a capitalist-the industrial model of development. The theory posits that capitalism, or a free market economy, is the most efficient and effective way to promote economic growth and development.

Proponents of the theory argued that capitalism encourages efficient production through industrialization, which is the process of moving towards factory-based production. The theory believed that this sort of economic model would create jobs, and opportunities and exceed economic growth, and in addition, the taxes from industry will allow for the funding of better education, healthcare and infrastructure, which will lead to a better standard of living for citizens. In other words, modernization theorists believed that by embracing capitalism and industrialization, developing countries could modernize their economies, improve living standards, and ultimately catch up to the developed world.

The reason behind modernization theory

Modernization theory is a concept that emerged in the late 1940s as a response to the possibility of communism in the developing world. During the Cold War, the United States and other Western countries were concerned about the spread of communism in the developing world, particularly in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. They feared that communist governments in these countries could harm American business interests and decrease US power and influence in the global arena. So, the US and Western countries often supported anti-communist governments and movements in these regions.


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