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Modernization Theory

Political Science
Course Code
Sophia Moreau

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Modernity and Modernization Theory
September 27, 2010
o Why the industrial revolution would have happened in Britain but
not somewhere else? What were the conditions that were unique to
Britain that made the IR happen there or happen there first?
o Daniel Lerner From Tradition to Modernity
o Political scientists started to do work outside of Europe and North
America in the 1950s
o Driven by three impulses the Cold War, Decolonization and
Economic Growth
Cold War
o Two super powers vied for control of the world began in earnest in
the early 1950s just 5 or 7 years after WWII in which the US and
the USSR had been allied
o In the 1950s, the two superpowers started to view the world and
tried to divide the world through the lenses of democracy and
o The main, driving impulse of US foreign policy became: What will
make countries more democratic? Under what conditions to
countries adopt democratic or authoritarian/communist
o Parts of the world in the global south had been previously
o A lot of this money came from the Ford foundation
o This is a central concern of the US government and the US
government is funding a lot of research, and as a result academics
start doing a lot of research in the colonized world
o Decolonization map demonstrates the way in which the whole
world was colonized
o When decolonization happened these countries throw off the yolk
of imperialism, it’s a big deal
o Starting in 1948 with India most countries manage to become
independent in the 1950s
o The great wave of decolonization started in 1948 and it was mostly
over by 1963
o It’s an incredibly short period of time in which decolonization occurs

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o For political scientists, what this means is that now there are
actually politics in parts of the world where politics were considered
o There is internal politics in the previously colonized countries
o Domestic politics, nationalism, parties and people vying for local
power at the local level there is actually political stuff happening
on the ground that political scientists can go out and study
o Africa firmly in the domain of anthropology before the 1950s; a
place where anthropologists could go and study language, kinship
ties, etc.; it wasnt a place to study voting, charismatic leadership,
etc. until later
o Many graduate students who were young and idealistic were very
inspired by decolonization because it looked like a global uprising
o Suddenly you have waves and waves of people going to Africa,
Latin America and parts of Asia that had been colonial up until this
point academic literature is getting produced from these parts of
the world
Economic Growth
o World economy takes off
o Economic growth was particularly impressive in the western
democracies, but it also existed in many poor countries, especially
in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Turkey (our reading today)
o These strides were both driven by and resulted in many important
changes on the ground
o Driven by literacy, political participation, mobility
o In many poor countries, analysts also began to see the passing of
traditional society what appeared to them to be a move from
tradition to modernity
o Almost without exception the political scientists who went out and
studied this all looked at the world through the lens of
o They conflated development and modernity they imagined
they were one single thing
o Underdeveloped societies are traditional; developed societies are
o In the reading, Lerner looks at Balgat, a remote village in Turkey
o Specifically, what Lerner does is he takes the reader to a small
village called Balgat a small village within the capital city Ankara
o The author directs our attention to a number of things that our
notable about Balgat, and the point hes trying to make in the first
chapter is that the things that he points to are mostly there to

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demonstrate that Balgat is still a traditional village and also to
reveal that it may be undergoing a tradition to modernity
o Lerner is mostly employing this to illustrate what the features of
tradition are
Features of Tradition
o Isolation
Balgat is only 8km from Ankara but it takes two hours to get
People who live in Balgat rarely leave the village
Theyre subsistence villagers who mostly produce what they
Theyre not part of the market
The chief has left the village only twice
And only the grocer travels to Ankara
o Lack of Information
Balgat has one radio that belongs to the chief
The chief invites only a few people to listen to the radio with
him and they listen to only one program the official news
program of the government
After the program is over, the chief interprets it for the
Not only is there just one radio station, but the program is
o Chief
Meant to stand in for rigid and hierarchical hereditary forms
of power
Controls who the interviewer speaks to
Present in the room when interviews are conducted
Chief resists giving the interviewer access to the poorest man
in the village
Tradition gets performed through rigid adherence to status
and hierarchy
Not only is there no physical mobility not only are people
not traveling there is also no social mobility
Social mobility you could become a member of another
class or move up and down the hierarchy of power
Physical mobility the ability to actually leave where you are
What does the chief talk about? He doesnt talk about much;
he doesnt answer most of the questions the interviewer asks;
he has no opinion on most matters; he expands on a few
topics his themes are obedience, courage and loyalty
Lerner identifies these as classic virtues of the Ottoman
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