In the euphoria and optimism that characterized the immediate post-World War II period, confidence in the inevitability of progress had a critical influence on views about how development of the Third World ought to proceed. In this situation, the idea of “modernization” emerged as the model to which development efforts should be oriented, a model that in the 1950s and 1960s dominated conceptualizations of the development process not only in economics, but also in sociology, anthropology, psychology, and political science, to the extent that these latter disciplines paid attention to the development field (no easy task, it may be added, in view of the primacy given to economic development and thus to economists).1 The concept’s origins were diffuse, deriving from the ideas of Durkheim, Weber, Marx, and Parsons, among others, about social, cultural, and economic change. The model yielded a particular view of change that is essentially dualistic, namely, tradition and modernity seen as opposing forces, the latter increasing at the expense of the former. The content of modernity is given (with some differences depending on particular disciplinary formulations) by the experience of those societies that have achieved it, namely, the societies of Western Europe and North America, which combine industrial economies with representative democracy (Bernstein, 1979). In the words of Eisenstadt (1966:1), “... modernization is the process of change towards those types of social, economic and political systems that have developed in Western Europe and North America ... and then have spread to other European countries and ... to the South American, Asian and African continents.”


Poor Country Development Assistance Land Reform Gross National Product Modern Sector 
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  1. 1.
    See Worsley (1984) for one account of “modernization” in social science theory.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    For a large-scale sociological study oriented to the modernization model, see the report by Inkeles and Smith (1974) of their findings on modernization in six developing countries.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Other critics of the modernization model are, for example, Apthorpe (1976) and Hutton and Cohen (1975) in sociology, Nafziger (1979) in economics, Uphoff and Ilchman (1972) in political economy, and Pitt (1976a,b) in anthropology.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    For a view of dependency from one of the Communist countries, see the work of Szentes (1977, 1980), a Hungarian economist. Griffin (1969) has made a detailed study of underdevelopment in Latin America. Kahl (1976) has reviewed the work of three leading Latin American sociologists who have worked on dependency: Germani, Gonzalez Casanova, and Cardoso.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    See Cardoso (1979) for an assessment of the ECLA contribution. See also a statement by Raul Prebisch (1979), the father of ECLA economics, of his position.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Valenzuela and Valenzuela (1981) point out that Frank is often thought of as the most important exponent of the dependency view because his work was available in English, but that in fact he presented oversimplified versions of the contributions of the Latin American writers that unintentionally distorted those contributions.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Although their assessment of the modernization perspective is close to the one presented here, Valenzuela and Valenzuela (1981:53) take a different position regarding dependency. They say: “The dependency perspective ... in the long run ... should provide a set of propositions capable of providing a real test for the assumption that the evolution of international structural linkages over time have conditioned development.”Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Although Taiwan is listed as a country here and subsequently, it should be noted that the Taiwanese think of themselves as constituting a province of the Republic of China and the mainland Chinese regard Taiwan as a province of the People’s Republic of China.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    For a case study of an effort at redistribution in one of the few countries in which this has been attempted, namely, Tanzania, see Green (1977). See also Apthorpe (1979) and Stavenhagen (1975).Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Weeks (1975:101) makes a similar point: “Experience in rich countries indicates clearly that redistributive steps that leave the ownership of property unchanged have little or no long-term impact. If there are economic laws, a fundamental one is that wealth generates income, and if it is desired to generate a different pattern of income flows, it is necessary to alter the path of wealth-holding.”Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    n “another development,” see Cardoso (1977) and Wolfe (1977, 1979).Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    The proportion of people in absolute poverty in LDCs as a group is estimated to have fallen during the 1960s and 1970s (although probably not in sub-Saharan Africa in the 1970s). But because population has grown, the number of people in absolute poverty has increased (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, 1980a). Poverty and lack of equity are by no means exclusively Third World problems. According to Edsall (1984:206), “In 1982 the number of people living [in the United States] below the government’s official poverty line ... rose to 34.5 million, or 15 per cent of the population ... a full percentage point above the 1981 level and the highest rate since 1965.”Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    In a report on a tour of six Latin American countries to assess the value of development projects concerned with “cultural investment” rather than the more usual objective of improving material well-being, Ariel Dorfman (1984:24), the Chilean poet and novelist, said: “. . . the real advance consists in having made some people feel more human ... . How do you measure the amount of dignity that people accumulate? ... With what machines do you evaluate someone’s rediscovered identity, the power that they now feel to set their own goals and not merely take what others are willing to hand down? With what graphs would you chart the curves of increased memory, increased self-reliance, increased group solidarity, increased critical awareness?”Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Hicks (1984) has reviewed the literature on this issue.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ozzie G. Simmons
    • 1
  1. 1.Fordham UniversityThe BronxUSA

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