Do You Agree with the Modernization Theory? Why or why not?

The definition of the Modernization Theory has been altered over time, but in Development and Democracy: What We Know About Modernization Today, Inglehart and Welzel argue that the Modernization Theory is the idea that industrialization increases the possibility for the formation of democratic institutions. More specifically, the authors argue that, “the core idea of modernization is that economic and technological development bring a coherent set of social and political changes,” (6). It seems obvious that growing nations would experience a shift in their cultural and political values, but a changing mindset does not explain how a nation becomes more susceptible to a democratic political climate. I decided I was in agreement with Inglehart and Welzel when I read their ideas on the importance of the emergence of a strong middle class to alter social and political thought. As the authors described, with developing economies and technologies comes an influx of new jobs that require education and training. Once people are educated, receive these jobs, and are paid appropriately, they gain agency to think for themselves and take a political interest in how they can maintain and protect their new occupations. This newfound “self-expression” from the middle-class gradually demands more democratic institutions.

Though brief, the article attached is a strong example of how a growing economy could generate social and political change. In summary, this article describes how the Chinese government aims to grow its economy and remain internationally competitive by expanding its robot market. Constructing a robot is a very difficult task, so to make the job more attractive; the government is offering subsidies to Chinese robot makers. Not only is this is creating a well-paying job market, which will strengthen the middle class, but it also gives political leverage to the Chinese workers because the government is relying on them to keep up the international economy.

Works Cited:

Inglehart, Ronald and Welzel, Christian. “How Development Leads to Democracy.” Foreign Affairs 88 (2).

“China Robot Sales to Almost Triple by 2018: Industry Group.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 16 Oct. 2015. Web. 20 Oct. 2015.


2 thoughts on “Do You Agree with the Modernization Theory? Why or why not?

  1. While I do agree with Inglehart and Welzel, I don’t entirely see how the increase of production of robots is a sign of social or political change within China. While China is now a bit more dependent on theses workers due to the high demand of production, this isn’t going to change the fact that China a nondemocratic nation. China’s citizens still don’t have many of the freedoms outlined in the many definitions of democracy (Schumpeter, Dahl, etc). While building these robots are tough and require higher education and more pay, China’s education is quite different than many other nations go about schooling since they limit certain information to their citizens. These workers know that China needs them so there is no real fear of the potential of losing their job. I would say that while the increase of robots could potentially be a sign movement towards democracy, it is quite hard to see the political and social thought in China changing currently, due to China’s strong hold on what the people can learn.

  2. I believe the example of China is a valid one when examining the argument does modernization lead to political and social change within a society. Certainly, social change is observed in China with the increase of the middle class and the spread of disposable income. It remains to be seen how the political status quo will become more democraticized.

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