This paper tries to explain why development projects experts who follow the modernization theory fail to implement and sustain development projects when they do not consult and involve project beneficiaries in the planning. At times, these projects even become a burden for beneficiary communities. External factors usually greatly influence development to the Third World. This paper suggests ways beneficiaries can participate in their projects. This paper will explain the origin of modernization theory, literature pertaining to the theory, and a case study of an Internet project in Sengerema, alternative perspectives on development in the Third World, as well as conclusions and recommendations. Literature
The origin of modernization theory can be traced to developments after the Second World War. At that time, the Third World had also emerged. At that time, there was a Cold War period; so in order for the US to prevent Third World countries from becoming socialist, the US introduced modernization theory to combat the socialism influence from the former USSR. So, the modernization theory was the result of the US’ effort to prevent the spread of socialism (Hague, 1999). In that period, American graduate students and social scientists shifted their interest on issues like cultural change, economic development, social change and political stability to the Third World. However, all in all the modernization theory carries the ideas of Western advancement and development which usually are keys to examine and determine the political, cultural, social and psychological realities of Third World countries (Hague, 1999). Consequently, modernization theory is often utilized to explain the past experiences and the current features of Western nations. Often modernization theory has been compared with Westernization. Therefore, modernization theory was for US interest and not to help the Third World to become developed.
Some scholars have attempted to explain the theory of modernization, but most of them attempt to explain that it is a transformation from traditional ways of life to modernity. Modernization is the social course of action where the economy is an element for development, while others say modernization is a process of social change, culturally, economic and socially ( Lerner, 1967). For that reason, theories of modernization are basically for the transformation of a society, especially by introducing modern technology. Since modernization theorists usually have Western thinking about development, Westerners view development from their own perspective and impose this perspective on others. When they implement it, they usually think that if modernization theory succeeds in one part of the world, it may also work in other countries. Hague (1999) observed it and said the foundation of the modernization theory stems from the theory of neo-classical economy; and that it is for the economy of capitalist development. The modernization perspective is that the Western model of economic growth can be used and applied in other countries. For that reason, they try to introduce modern technology in projects at the local level and try to influence people to use modern technology. At the same time, the experts of modernization theory advise Third World government officials for macro-level and aid organization to pressure them to set aside human services and education for economic growth. In that scenario, modernization theory is a top down approach because experts have their own ideas of development in Third World countries. They suggest it should be the same as in Western countries. Therefore, they want to guide, advice, and persuade people from the Third World about the benefits they will gain from that modern technology. However, Third World people have their own priorities for their development. For that reason, usually experts do not involve potential beneficiaries in the plan or project, which is why some projects...
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