Sample Sociology Paper on The Modernization Theory

The Modernization Theory

Modernization theory study’s the process of social development and evolution of societies. The theory is categorized into two; the micro evaluations of modernization, which focus on componential elements of a community modernization and the macro factors of modernization, which focus on empirical trajectories that describe the processes of modernization of economies, nations, politics, and trade (Marsh, 2014). However, in contemporary society, the theory of modernization relates to structural changes that occur at higher levels of social, political, and economic realms. Fundamentally, the theory of modernization examines the process of social evolution and the growth and development of societies. Therefore, the modernization theory primary aim is to desribe a single theory of evolution and the complexities that eminent from multidimensional social development. This study examines the theory of modernization according to Marsh (2014), his arguments, and the existing criticisms of the theory of modernization.

Marsh (2014), argues that contrary to the arguments of scholars such as Alexander and Wallerstein among others, the concept of modernization is not dead. Consequently, existing research on the theory of modernization has only increased since the 1960s. Marsh (2014), notes that the modernization theory was most applicable in economic field than the social one. Consequently, this was because it was difficult to completely arise the traditional cultures and replace them with the western ones. However, the theory would apply in the economic field as a result of trade with the west. Nonetheless, it would take many years to ensure the complete assimilation of western cultures in the world. Subsequently, two facts remain that raise valid questions about the death of modernization theory such as the process of the shift from agrarian revolution to industrial growth and eventually to the growth of the services and information society. Therefore, the modernization concept has inspired the idea of unconditional convergence of societies, although, in future, the convergence of economies of different countries will form distinct clubs of convergence, where one club will be of the high-income earners, while the other will be of low-income earners. Hence, the middle-income earners status will disappear.

In the political arena, Marsh (2014) argues that the modernization process in the western versions begins with the transformation of cultures by replacing traditional values that inhibit economic and social changes. Moreover, modernization process also replaces public consciousness with modern value that motivate economic and social entities to be innovative.

Some criticism has been maintained regarding the modernization theory such as the idea of Ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism is the assumption that social and economic progress is homogenous throughout the world. The ethnocentrism ideals lead the least developed countries to be more dependent on the wealthier nations for economic and social progress and development, thereby causing inevitable exploitation   The Modernization theory has described traditions as obstacles to economic and social growth and development.

The modernization theory requires the destruction of indigenous culture and traditions, to replace it with modern western cultures. Consequently, the modernization theory only views the western cultures as the only modern society, while other cultures are viewed as unevolved and typically primitive. However, this is not true since many economies around the world have developed successfully, and are at par with the western economies. Moreover, the modernization theory only views other societies as unmodernized, yet some of the unmodernized economies that still maintain their traditions and have the same standards of living with the west. Thus, the developing nations do not have a homogenous set of traditional values (Klaren, 2018). Consequently, modern and traditional values are not always mutually exclusive as can be evidenced in China. China has maintained its traditional values and aspects, yet it is one of the most developed nations in the world. Moreover, traditional values are not always dichotomous from modern values and can be transformed to suit the modern aspects of economic growth and prosperity.

The modernization theory is Eurocentric since modernization began in Europe. However, the theory of modernization was only popular in the 1950s, until it received numerous criticisms from various scholars by 1960. Additionally, global development is not unidirectional (Shannon, 2018). Therefore, the theory only describes one model of the possibility of social and economic development. However, development has been witnessed in other nations far from the west such as in Japan, South Korea, China, and Taiwan, whose development levels have been attained through authoritarian regimes (Klaren, 2018; Shannon, 2018).

The theory of modernization is associated with the development aid from the developed nations to the developing countries. However, aid can be negotiated in several arrangements such as multilateral or bilateral. Modernization is a lengthy process that requires sufficient time and dedicated regimes to realize its full impact on both social and economic developments. However, the theory of modernization was applicable in mid-20th century because that was when the global was experiencing massive adaptation of new laws and principals to govern them. Moreover, it was one of the most appropriate theories of development after the II World War, when nations were formulating their economic policies.






Klaren, P. F. (2018). Modernization. In Promise Of Development (pp. 37-108). Routledge.

Marsh, R. M. (2014). Modernization theory, then and now. Comparative Sociology13(3), 261-283.

Shannon, T. R. (2018). An introduction to the world-system perspective. Routledge.