||A process of social change resulting from the diffusion and adoption of the characteristics of expansive and apparently more advanced societies through societies which are apparently less advanced (see dual economy). Modernization involves social mobilization, the growth of a more effective and centralized apparatus of political and social control, the acceptance of scientifically rational norms and the transformation of social relations (see mode of production; Taylor, 1979) and aesthetic forms. The five linear stages of economic growth proposed by Rostow (1960; 1978; see rostow model) point to the importance of the Cold War as a crucial formative context in which notions of modernization were developed. Indeed, the sub-title of Rostow\'s book â€” a non-communist manifesto â€” makes this connection directly whilst Peet (1991) demonstrates the links between notions of modernization and structural functionalism.
As Hobsbawm (1979) pointed out, however, discourses of modernization such as those promoted by Rostow also offer an ideological framework within which the idea and practice of development may be interpreted â€” not least the notion that underdevelopment is a consequence of conditions internal to the underdeveloped society. However, such an ideology abstracts from the deeper and wider tendency towards modernization and a postmodern world (Harvey, 1989) associated with the \'remarkable â€¦ historical geography of capitalism\' (Harvey, 1982, p. 373) and its dramatic transformation of values, societies and landscapes across the globe (see postmodernism). In a passage written at the same time, and remarkably similar to Harvey\'s, Marshall Berman (1982, p. 16) refers to the \'social processes that bring this maelstrom into being, and keep it in a state of perpetual becoming\', as \'modernization\'. This is connected with but distinguished from modernism â€” which Berman refers to as
the amazing variety of visions and ideas that aim to make men and women the subjects as well as the objects of modernization, to give them the power to change the world that is changing them to make their way through the maelstrom and make it their ownand from \'modernity\' seen as
a mode of vital experience â€” experience of space and time, of the self and others, of life\'s possibilities and perils â€” that is shared by men and women all over the world today.These distinctions point up Rostowian-inspired discourses of modernization and development as exercises in objectification.
The translation of modernization into a geography of development was closely associated with the \'new\' geography of spatial organization and locational analysis of the mid- to late-1960s (e.g. Soja, 1968; Gould, 1970; Riddell, 1970; Soja and Tobin, 1972; cf. locational analysis; spatial science). It conceived of modernization as the creation and spread of a network of urban growth poles orientated to external markets and through which innovations and so development would diffuse throughout a nationally based central place hierarchy (see central place theory). Modernization is seen as a recursive process as the social and environmental changes induced by it redefine the framework within which it continues to take place.
Like all models of change based upon the stages of growth, modernization emphasizes the temporally uneven nature and complexity of social change. However, the notion also implies a unilinear and teleological process of change (see teleology). Modernization is an apparently unproblematic process of social adoption throughout a universal society. The outcome is known in advance: modernization is defined in Eurocentric terms (Hettne, 1990) and the process and direction of change are therefore predetermined. Notions of empowerment and disempowerment (see underdevelopment) and the contested establishment of particular forms of social and environmental relations are ignored. The modernizing society is, apparently, infinitely pliable and may be pulled and stretched to conform with the parameters of modernization. The implication of modernization is that its subject societies have no history, culture or developed set of social or environmental relations. This is an example of a profoundly culturally racist view of the world (see Blaut, 1992).
Furthermore, modernization is often conceived as an autonomous process of change rather than as the product of the integration of pre-existing societies and their subsequent disintegration and restructuring in line with the tenets of modernization. One consequence of such a view and of its influence upon policy and the legitimation of economic and social action is the generation of underdevelopment. For example, industrialization is still often seen as the path to modernity but, as Knox and Agnew (1998) point out, this view implies the existence of apparently limited multiplier effects in agriculture (see multipliers), the notion that agriculturalists are inherently conservative, and the belief that only industry is productive in terms of its potential for productivity increases, and increasing marginal returns through economies of scale. The valuable locally based, often environmentally sensitive, systems of production are thus replaced and their practitioners displaced by a process of change which leads to unsustainable social, environmental and geographical disruption and polarization.
In short, modernization is more than an abstraction, a \'comfortable myth\' (Brookfield, 1975, p. 76), which denies the concrete and complex processes of change and struggle in real social formations. It is an environmentally and socially destructive ideology (Blaikie, 1985; Blaikie and Brookfield, 1987; Watts, 1992/96; Watts and McCarthy, 1997) which still retains a power to shape trajectories of economic development within which sustainability is problematic (Adams, 1995). And it is still more than that: as a global set of social relations providing the predominant conditions of existence in the struggle to make a living, capitalism provides the immensely powerful social and material commonality in which postmodern struggles and conflicts are played out.Â (RL)
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Suggested Reading Corbridge, S. 1986: Capitalist world development. London: Macmillan, ch. 1.Â Corbridge, S. 1995: Development studies: a reader. London and New York: Arnold, section one.Â Hobsbawm (1979).Â Peet (1991), ch. 3.Â Routledge, P. 1995: Resisting and reshaping the modern: social movements and the development process. In R.J. Johnston, M.J. Watts and P.J. Taylor, eds, Geographies of global change: remapping the world in the late twentieth century, ch. 16. Oxford and Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 263-79.Â Watts (1992/96).Â Watts and McCarthy (1997).