How Do States Move from Tradition to Modernity and Is Progress Necessarily Good for Society?

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* How do states move from tradition to modernity and is progress necessarily good for society? *
* Everything changes and is in flux. Heraclitus believed that ‘one cannot even put one’s foot in the same river twice’ (Heraclitus, 1981:44). As such, it can also be said that the same is true of our society and our political systems. *

* The transition from traditional society to a modern one is characterised by the moving away from religion and custom towards the more modern ideas of secularism, ‘convention, legislation, and public opinion’ (Ferdinand Tonnies, 1981:51). *

* Robert Nisbet says that it is in society’s nature to change and develop (1981:44). He sees the change as being natural, directional, immanent, continuous, necessary and stemming from uniform causes (1981:46-47). Change will always happen if it is not hampered and will follow a logical sequence of stages. *

* W.W. Rostow’s stage theory (1981:60-61) shows a distinct transformation of a traditional society to a modern one. It begins with the underdeveloped traditional society based primarily on agriculture. There is a gradual shift brought on by scientific discoveries and technological advances which leads to rapid growth. There Is a ‘drive towards maturity’ when ‘output regularly outstrips the increase in population’ (Rostow, 1981:60), the ‘age of high mass consumption’ which sees a move towards producing long-lasting goods and finally the ‘enrichment of the private life’ (Rostow, 1981:60) of the citizens.

However, modernity presents its own set of challenges. Lucien Pye identified five crises of modernity (1981:69-70), namely the crises of identity, legitimacy, participation, penetration and distribution. The legitimacy crisis arises when the people are in disagreement with the authority and the government’s responsibilities. The other crises involve the trying to meet the demands of new constituents, nation building, the service delivery of the government...
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