Lisa M. Allen
University of Phoenix
Modernization is the process of social change in societies since industrialization, according to Peter Berger four characteristics are identified in modernization; the decrease of traditional communities, broadening of personal choice, an increase in social diversity, and looking toward the future (Axia College, 2010). Durkheim’s theory division of labor establishes that people highly specialized roles creating an organic solidarity with mutual dependency between people, similar to Tonnies concept of Gesellschaft in which people come together only on the basis of individual self-interest (Axia College, 2010), also giving rise to global expansion through organic solidarity. Durkheim believed organic solidarity would take over the traditional community, in which Durkheim termed as mechanical solidarity or the shared moral beliefs of preindustrial societies, this also being similar to Tonnies concept of Gemeinschaft in which people are closely linked by kinship and tradition (Axia College, 2010). Though Durkheim and Tonnies had similar theories to the concept of modernization, Durkheim is known to lean toward a more optimistic outlook; however Durkheim was weary of societies collapsing into a state in which little moral guidance would be offered to individuals which he termed as anomie (Axia College, 2010). According to sources the process of modernization is seen to encompass such trends as urbanization, secularization, the development of mass production and consumption, the growth of bureaucracy, and the emergence of a large managerial middle class (Modernization, n.d.). In the United States modernization can be viewed through the advances made through women gaining equality, the growth of industries through new technologies, the decrease in family owned businesses, family farms being bought by bigger companies, the growth in power of the government, and the weaker traditional values that some individuals may practice today. Many people in American societies today seem to live in societies in which the prosperity and bureaucracy have weakened the intimate relationships of traditional bonds, this type of society has be termed a mass society (Axia College, 2010). Many changes have been implemented in today’s societies compared to those of the past in which people lived in smaller towns and access to technology was limited; through modernization individuals can now work from home, build social networks, mass produce, drive electric cars, and be in a different country for a conference via satellite. Modernization has taken the past life of small towns and horses to the future by cars and industrial cities, thus producing opportunities for individuals to make more money and provide a higher standard of living for their families. In addition to a higher standard of life, the government grew in power as well, thus causing need to create ways to pay for established programs such as; schooling, regulations and rules of employment, establishing standards for products, and others for increased standards of living, which lead to taxes and the continuous increase. This also increases the amount of control that the large bureaucracy holds in the daily lives of American citizens today in a mass society. Over the years governance has become highly specialized, an intricate web of diverse offices skilled in their specialized mandate interdependent upon each other. According to concepts of Durkheim and Tonnies mass society emerges through modernization and societies becoming self-centered, according to Tonnies, and creating a society that provides little moral guidance to individuals as defined by Durkheim’s anomie (Axia College, 2010). Through the process of modernization and increase in financial gain, the increase of financial well-being has shown to divide people into economic classes, created through social stratification. Karl Marx believed modern society was equivalent to capitalism, claiming the industrial revolution gave way to a powerful production system (Axia College, 2010). Marx’s beliefs were centered on capitalism and the self-centeredness; these views held support of the class society theory of modernization. According to the class society theory, a capitalist society included social stratification. As well as demonstrating theories of mass society, the United States demonstrates theories of class society as well. The United States is a functioning society and seems to continue to grow through the process of modernization, continuing to show characteristics of both mass society and class society theories. As modernization grows in the United States, the United States continues to grow on a worldwide level in modernization. Modernization can be seen all over the world through urbanization and advanced technology, which is key for countries to begin to develop a higher standard of living. Poor countries develop ways to increase their standings to richer nations of the world that live in higher standards of living. Research has claimed that in poor country societies family and tradition hold higher regard to daily life than in richer countries, where family is separated by work and income. Sources say that family is being pulled by modernization as indicated by later age in marriages, greater acceptance of cohabitation, and decline in average number of children and high divorce rate (Lavee, Y., & Katz, R., 2003), being seen in many countries all over the world. Though modernization has its benefits to many, it also has its consequences such as the decrease in tradition and the more self-interest attitude. In addition to consequence of tradition, not many pay attention to the consequences modernization has on the environment. Research has claimed that the modern era has dramatically altered the global environment, including altering natural landscapes, the number and disruption of many species inside developed land , the effects modernization has on the ozone depletion and admission of greenhouse gases, and the availability of resources (York, R., Rosa, E., & Dietz, T., 2003). These consequences affect everyone in the world and change needs to continue in the attempt to prevent further consequences, in addition to maintaining positive growth in the modernization process. The best theory to describe modernization could be a combination of Durkheim’s theory of division of labor, Tonnies theory of Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft, and Marx’s theory of capitalism. It seems apparent that tradition is no longer the foundation of many societies, as others may try to incorporate tradition into the new modern way. As bureaucracy holds power the process of modernization will continue as the characteristics are necessary to maintain a balance in societies.
Axia College. Week Seven Reading Material. Retrieved from SOC/120- Sociology course website.
Lavee, Y., & Katz, R. The Family in Israel: Between Tradition and Modernity. Marriage & Family Review, 35(1/2), 193. Retrieved from MasterFILE Premier Database
(n.d). MODERNIZATION. Retrieved from XRefer XML database
York, R., Rosa, E., & Dietz, T. FOOTPRINTS ON THE EARTH: THE ENVIRONMENTAL CONSEQUENCES OF MODERNITY. American Sociological Review, 68(2), 279-300. Retrieved from Business Source Complete database.