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The idea of modernization has been derived from the view that societies have uniform patterns of evolving (developing) as defined and described by the theories of development and evolution. The underpinning of modernization and theories of modernization have it that societies are moving from barbaric and constrained predispositions to a more sophisticated form of existence. This paper therefore looks at modernization as a concept, under the American context.
Manifestation of modernity in America
Modernization has taken two main fronts in almost all economies in the world- America included. These are the socio- cultural and economic results of Modernization. In the socio- cultural front, modernization has been mostly depicted by the widespread adoption of liberalism. To this effect, there is sexual liberalism. Sexual liberalism in the US is mainly exhibited not only by the discarding of the Victorian views on sexuality, but also by the rapid and stark infiltration of sex in both the print and electronic media. At the same time, this is made more apparent by the making of these materials more accessible.
In the same wavelength, this state of affairs is also accompanied by the plummeting levels in stressing the need to maintain and uphold sexual compunctions. To this effect, there have been rising of cases in indulgence. It is on this backdrop that in the 1950s, 67% of teenage girls were found to be still holding on to their virginity, as compared to 1999 when 14% of the American teenage girls are virgins. At the same time, over 60% of marriages are found to be susceptible to divorce, while 87% of these marriages that fail are caused by extra marital affairs (Brugger and Hannan, 1999 pp. 100).
Sexual liberalism is also being manifested by the adoption of sexually appealing clothes. To this end, micro miniskirt, tight jeans, hipsters and G strings are finding their way into both international market and American market swiftly and easily. At the same time, the entertainment sector (the movie and music industries) are deeply pegged on the misuse of sexuality in order to increase the volume of sales.
Another stark manifestation of modernization of the American population is apparently portrayed by the shift from religion and the entertainment of superstitions, to the adoption of secularism. This state of affairs has been promoted by the continual leanings towards the employment of scientific methods of investigations. The adoption of scientific methods of investigation has propelled the prestige of the theory of evolution on the one hand, while on the other hand, it has led to the atrophying in the formidability of religion as a way of explaining life.
On the economic front, modernization has mainly been characterized in the American context by the adoption of the raunch culture in the commercial rector. The raunch culture refers to the (mis)use of sexuality and eroticism in commercialism so as to increase the volume of sales. Particularly, the media and the advertising industry takes to presently (mis)use eroticism and sexuality to promote products.
Modernization also marries with the concept and the practice of capitalism as a mode of production. To this effect, not only has America been seen to have adopted capitalism, but America has also been seen to be instrumental in entrenching capitalism on other nations. In most cases, America achieves this feat through World Bank and the International Monetary Funds.
The global prospects of modernism
Modernization can be said to have been fully adopted in the whole world. This is because, almost all nations have already adopted capitalism as a mode of production. According to the World Bank 2000 Report, since the fall of Socialism and the Soviet Union, 86% (Wesseleng, 2000 pp. 122).of the world is capitalist. At the same time, it is through World Trade that nations have adopted the DOHA and TRIPS regulations of opening up their markets, and these governments ceding control over their markets, so as to allow for the free flow of capital in a transnational sense.
At the same time, the whole world has adopted the use of raunch culture in commercialism. According to the NHS only the non Muslim world that accounts for 18% of the world do not subscribe the use of raunch culture. Sexual liberalization and secularism are both concepts that already inundate the world due to concepts of globalization such as the free and the instantaneous exchange of information, chiefly through global internet connectivity- the world wide web.
Consequences of modernization
Modernization theories are based mostly on the notion that the developed countries which comprises mostly the white race should be the monitor of all the affairs of development in the field of international relations. To this end, the Core are to prefect and make developmental decisions for the Periphery. This type of ideology has mainly led to cases divulged on below.
The theory of modernization of Logical Sequence Theory maintains that since the western world which is the white man’s domains is the center of civilization and modernization, the economic, cultural and technological accruals are to flow from the Core to the Periphery. This has led to the adoption of racism, since the white race is portrayed as developed, and the non whites as having economies and cultures archaic. It is on this backdrop that the Dred- Scott Revision came into existence in America. The Dred- Scott Revision before its banishment postulated that the black race was inferior and subservient to the white race. To this effect, it was not fit for the black race to participate alongside the white race in matters touching on governance, politics, public relations and international relations and diplomacy. At the same time, the black race had no rights as far as the whites were concerned.
Given that the Core and the white race became associated with the prefectory role of ensuring growth, modernization and civilization on the side of the Periphery, there has prevailed a consistent economic inegalitarianism. This inequality is mainly epitomized by the developed world growing richer as poverty levels in the less developed economies continue to soar. This inequality results from both historical and current factors. Some of the historical factors include slave trade and slavery, which provided the Core with labor while at the same time, denied the Periphery its labor power. Colonialism in the same wavelength enabled the Core to exploit both raw materials and resources such as labor, at the expense of the Periphery.
Current factors that have catapulted this inequality are the policies that are activated and imposed on the Periphery, by the Core, of which presently, America is the de facto leader, through the two Breton Woods Institutions, the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Funds (IMF). These policies such as the Structural Adjustment Programs are imposed on the Periphery without taking to stock, the economic, political, and social orientation of these countries. Similarly, World Trade policies such as the DOHA and the TRIPS advocate under the pressure of the Core countries the proscription of the exacting of tariffs, and the offering of incentives and government subsidies to the local farmers and traders who are too poor to withstand international market competition.
This state of affairs poses a setback to the adoption of peace processes and policies in international relations, as citizens in the Periphery disgruntled by economic and socio- cultural neocolonialism take to reverse the situation by reverting to violence and international terrorism.
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The theorist that best reflects modernization
There have been a lot of theories that have been out forward in an attempt to thoroughly reflect modernization. Perhaps, the most dominant form of modernization theory is the Logical Sequence Theory that was put forth by Comte.
Comte as the proponent of this theory uses the economic, technological, the military might and development of the US, Britain and other countries in the western world, to explain the biological and cultural aspects of races, and states. Comte postulates that the fact that the western world is advanced, points out that its occupants are the most advanced and superior race in the world. This is meant by Comte, that the white race is the most refined in the world- socially, culturally, economically and politically.
From this theoretical standpoint, Comte’s proteges have developed the Logical Sequence Theory to not only underscore the notion of the superiority of the white race, but to also divulge further that all the domains of the world would benefit from the expansion of the territories and settlement of the white man. To this end, Parsons and Rostow posited that westernization and its subsequent expansion was not only inevitable, but desirable as well.
In the same wavelength, Parsons and Rostow continue that all the inconveniences that would be encountered by the rest of the non- white races due to the implementation and actualization of colonialism were to be reveled at, courtesy of the fact that the shortcomings of colonialism would only be short lived, and therefore bound to be overtaken by the accruals in terms of both the longevity and beneficence. To this end, it was incumbent upon the colonies to shoulder the White man’s burdens.
To Comte’s protege, Lord Cecil Rhodes, the need to conquer and to acquire colonies was the most instrumental way through which modernization, civilization and development could be spread from the metropoles (the developed countries- otherwise known as the Core), right into the Periphery (areas, economies or political entities that are less endowed with capital). It is only through white domination, and suppression for instance through both colonialism and neocolonialism that the rest of the races could learn and become both modernized and civilized.
It is because of the above pitfalls of modernization that have been seen in this discourse that critics have dismissed modernization as as a variant of westernization, given the fact that it is normally geared towards eurocentricism. To this effect, recommendations have been made that the underpinnings of modernization be redrawn and restructured. This means that the modalities have to be reorganized and redefined. For instance, internet filtering laws must be instituted so as to enable the filtering of sexually explicit content from being accessed by unauthorized and unwarranted party, such as the underage. Conversely, the WB and the IMF, and the World Trade Organization rules must be fine tuned to allow for the recognition of indigenous societies in respect to their socio- cultural and political leanings.
Brugger, B. and Hannan, K. (1999). Modernization. New York: Prentice Hall.
Wesseleng, R. (2000). Antitrust laws and modernization. Michigan: Michigan University Press.
NHS (2007) Limits of modernization. Web.
Committee of modernization (2005) Debating issues on modernization. Web.