Discuss the assertion that modernisation theory is the panacea to third world problems. This essay will seek to examine the contention that, the theory of Modernisation is the solution to the problems being faced in third world countries. The writer will argue that the theory has to a lesser extend been able to bring solutions to problems faced by third world countries, bringing to fore how some of its prescriptions has in fact brought negative growth to third world economies. The dependency theory, which amongst other assertions high lights the exploitative relationship that exist between first and third world countries will be used to critique modernisation. However, the essay will also bring to light how modernisation theory has been credited to the Asian miracle not withstanding how some of the recommendations have assisted third world countries in a number of ways including; controlling the third world s’ population by proving contraceptive technology and Increasing food production by introducing "high-tech" farming methods, Introducing industrial technology to increase productivity and Instituting programs of foreign aid, particularly in the form of investment capital bringing a semblance of hope to third world nations in light of the insurmountable problems these nations face. It is imperative to begin by identifying who the third world countries are, how they came into being and what separates them from the first world or developed countries. Wikipedia proffers that Third World is a term originally used to distinguish those nations that neither aligned with the West nor with the East during the Cold War. These countries are also known as the Global South, developing countries, and least developed countries in academic circles. Many "third world" countries are located in Africa, Latin America, and Asia.
A number of Third World countries were former colonies, and with the end of imperialism, many of these countries, especially the smaller ones, were faced with the challenges of nation and institution building on their own for the first time. Due to this common background, many of these nations were "developing" in economic terms for most of the 20th century, and many still are today.
By the end of the 1960s, the idea of the Third World came to represent countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America that were considered underdeveloped by the West based on a variety of characteristics; low economic development, low life expectancy, high rates of poverty and disease, etc. This meant these countries were not modern.
Rapley (2007) notes that therefore, for a country to be seen as modern, the modernization theorists prescribed these countries to undergo an evolutionary advance in technology, industrialization which in turn would lead to an increased standard of living for all. Thus it was premised that for 3rd world countries to develop they were supposed to take the same route as that of the developed nations
The Modernisation theory was popularized by W.W. Rostow (1960) who argued that all societies follow pre-determined or pre-defined steps to development. To him, modernization is a homogeneous process which leads all societies towards convergence and he gives five general stages that are to be followed by all societies as follows;
The traditional stage strongly tied to family and religion. For the theorists, traditional cultural values and social institutions impede economic growth because people in low income countries lack a strong work ethic, cannot defer gratification and therefore cannot invest and have large families that prevent investment. This stage is characterized by low output or production, elementary forms of technology and fatalistic values- viewing hardship as inevitable. Political power is non-centralized The pre-conditions for take-off stage is comprised of clusters of new ideas focusing on economic progress. Education becomes critical and the roles of women together with...
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