Sociology Index


Modernization Theory is a theory of social and economic development, following functionalism or consensus perspective assumptions, that societies need to have harmony among their component parts. Globalization is also responsible for spread of modernisation across borders. Under critical theory, modernization is linked to an overarching process of rationalisation. These assumptions leads to the belief that modern economies (capitalist) demand special characteristics in their culture and the social structure.

Modernisation theory can be criticised from a neo-modernist or Marxist viewpoint as Western-centric. Family systems are assumed to change towards a narrow conjugal form, and away from extended structure, in order to accommodate the individualism and occupational flexibility that is demanded by a modern complex economy undergoing continual transformation. Ronald Inglehart is among the very few scholars to have remained consistently engaged with both the study of political culture and the development of modernization theory over the past few decades.

Modernisation theory seeks to establish how different societies progress and the effects of societal progress on human communication.

In Mandarins of the Future: Modernization Theory in Cold War America and Gilman, Nils (2008) The death of modernization theory? Nils Gilman offers the intellectual history of a movement that has had far-reaching consequences.

Books on Modernization Theory

From Modernization to Globalization: Perspectives on Development and Social Change - J. Roberts, Amy Hite.

Mandarins of the Future: Modernization Theory in Cold War America by Nils Gilman.

Modernization and Postmodernization by Ronald Inglehart.

Social Change and Development : Modernization, Dependency and World-System Theories, Alvin Y. So. The field of development has been dominated by three schools of research. The 1950s saw the modernization theory school develop, the 1960s experienced the dependency theory school, the 1970s developed the new world-system theory school, and the 1980s is a convergence of all three schools.