Modernization Theory : An Effective Method For Development Essay

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Measurable changes in society, and the policies that drive them, spring from abstract strains of thought that develop over time. This is the case with many paradigms of development theory, such as that of Modernization Theory. Modernization theory is closely associated with modernity, a concept that is particularly difficult to define in concrete terms; however, there are several points that help one grasp its complexity. Giddens (1990) sees modernity as particular modes of social life that reflect 17th century European values of progress and enlightenment thinking. As well, one can view modernization as a continuous project, meant to liberate countries from their traditional ‘backward’ way of life and become more aligned with Western ideals (Cooper 2005). Modernization became a popular theory due to its roots in the sociological theory behind modernity and capitalism, as well as the perpetuation of its necessity by developmental economists. Modernization theory was considered an effective method for development due to the assumption that its success domestically, as shown by the Tennessee Valley Authority in the 1930’s, would be just as effective on foreign nations (Ekbladh 2002). Despite this, there are more recent criticisms that contest the efficacy of modernization in current development discourse regarding non-economic barriers to development and the theory’s inherent euro-centric underpinnings. The first section of this paper discusses Max Weber’s spirit
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