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Modernization Theory

Modernization theory

Modernization theory represents the mixture of sociology theories within societies. It mainly reflects the traditional views of society and highlight the internal factors of a country and development (Bernstein, 1971). From the 18th century, it englight the individual ideas of modernism the civilians living in the society. Whereas, the social changes were brought in revolution to change the view and standards of living with the concept of functionalism, which focuses on interdependence (Tétreault & Abel, 1986). It is stated by the French philosopher Marquies de Condorcet, who bought a new division of technology development and changes in the society.

Individuals need to bring changes in moral and cultural views and adopt social lives. Modernization theory was further focused in late 19th century, to make individuals open-minded about the change and modernity (Bernstein, 1971). This study represents, modernization as an internal conflict among societies till now due to different races and religion (Tétreault & Abel, 1986). The basic evidence of the modernization theory was converted into the democracy to have freedom of speech. Individuals were adopting the change of the society, but with the context of freedom and independence.

Currently, modernization theory is dominant with the incorporation of dependency theory which further followed to explore the relation of borderline of poverty and underdeveloped areas to improve themselves and accept the change (Tétreault & Abel, 1986). Dependency theory was arose in the response of modernization that where wealthy states are growing quickly, on the other hand underdeveloped states still need some progress in the society (Seers, 1981).  Therefore, dependency theory brought a new concept to provide basic needs of poor nations such as labor, markets, natural resources, etc.

Researcher highlighted, modernization has been the most dominant theory in societies and political sector (Mihalache, 2007). Modernization theory faces criticism in the shape of dependency theory because of the underdeveloped states were suffering and modernization theorist was focusing on the development literature by neglecting the poor nations (Seers, 1981). The primary function of  modernization theory is to ensure an optimal framework for the proper governance of globalization.

In this way, it is focused that all economies benefit through various mechanisms of productivity. In addition, this theory facilitates the integration of national economies in terms of goods and services (Mihalache, 2007). Undoubtedly, a world of global capital markets associates with more opportunities for success for the nation, states and for the international system as a whole. Globalization is an extensive, ongoing process, providing new opportunities for development to all economies (Bernstein, 1971). Whereas, dependency theory in particular the underdeveloped nations, present the importance of surveillance and crisis prevention mechanisms that further motivate nation states to pursue strong and adequate policies.  

The study shows that, lucidity in the government operations is extensively regarded as an important precondition for macroeconomic fiscal sustainability, fine government, and largely fiscal integrity due to modernization theory (Stouten, 2010). Booth theories dealt with the government, but their influence reflects on the society. The modernization and dependency theory showed internationally recognized standards and codes, it takes the guide in the development and monitoring of financial standards in two different societies (Seers, 1981).  Dependency theory sharply critique modernization theory by highlighting the difference in the societies as a persistent global poverty cannot be eliminated without the focus of international economic system.

The facts of the modernization theory were further adopted by U.S, Germany, China, Japan, India, etc., such as the procedure of borrowing science and technology to explore the developments and bring change in the society (Stouten, 2010). These countries attempt modernism in different ways, whether it is a social, environmental, political or technological changes. Therefore, modernization theory bought a total change in social process linked with economic developments (Bernstein, 1971).  It transforms the living standards of individuals, personality, culture and human ecology. Modernization theory is further explored with the concept of sociology to be more specific about the changes. Modernization denotes a social change within a modern context, sociology and industrialization era. However, Modernization incorporates dependency theory, the activities and confrontation against the developments of society is amazing and did not cease (Seers, 1981). Modernization theory further argues that all countries pass through, such as evidence shows that, changes in early modern Europe played an important role in the making of representative government in England. Moreover, the structural changes were dominant in China by shifting the economic power away from traditional farming elites.

Few Empirical evidence of this theory shows the survival of democracy in society such as, increase wages, changes in economic growth from 1990's till now and industrialization revolution all over the world (Herrmann, 1999). It can be proof the modernization theory is adopted because if not, then how countries all around the world is established to increase their income and economic growth?

It is concluded that, modernization theory is one of the important theories of sociology to understand the facts about the changes of society and the established modernism society represent a global system of imposed dependency on nation states (Herrmann, 1999). Modernization theory played an essential role in determining and enforcing reliable strategies to help nation states rebuild Europe after the devastating war.




Bernstein, H. (1971). Modernization theory and the sociological study of development*. The Journal Of Development Studies, 7 (2), pp. 141--160.

Herrmann, P. (1999). European integration between institution building and social process. Commack, N.Y.: Nova Science Publishers.

Mihalache, A. (2007). Modernization vs. dependency. Journal Of Development Studies, 19 (1), pp. 99-117. [Accessed: 27 Feb 2014].

Seers, D. (1981). Dependency theory: a critical reassessment. Pinter London.

Stouten, P. L. M. (2010). Changing contexts in urban regeneration. Amsterdam: Techne Press.

Te´treault, M. A. & Abel, C. F. (1986). Dependency theory and the return of high politics. New York: Greenwood Press.



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