Sociology and Modernization

Topics: Sociology, Émile Durkheim, Nuclear weapon Pages: 6 (1876 words) Published: May 8, 2009
Modernization is the process in which social and economic change is obtained through industrial revolution, urbanization and other social changes that alters people's lives. Modernization promotes individualism over the unity of traditional communities and encourages rationality over traditional philosophies. Modernization can have both positive and negative effects on society and can often bring about controversy.

The German sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies (1855-1937) formed the theory of Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft. Ferdinand Tönnies saw modernization as the progressive loss of human community (Gemeinschaft). He also believed that modernization caused people in modern societies to drift apart and personal relationships became more impersonal as people became more self-absorbed (Gesellschaft). Ferdinand Tönnies theory suggests that … modernity turns society inside out so that people are essentially separated in spite of uniting factors (Macionis, J., 2006, page 457). Large cities provide an excellent example of Ferdinand Tönnies theory of Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft. People pass one another by the hundreds on busy city streets every day; yet, they remain strangers because they ignore each other as they pass. Even loyalty and trust becomes issues between friends as individuals put their personal needs above others. Peter Berger's work was greatly influenced by Ferdinand Tönnies theories.

Peter Berger (1977) identified four major characteristics of modernization to describe his theory about how modernization manifests itself.

1.The decline of small, traditional communities: rather than life revolving around family and community it now revolves around technology and individualism. People born into modern societies may have the tendency to overlook such a decline in small, traditional communities because they would have never lived in or possibly even seen a small, traditional community.

2.The expansion of personal choice: rather than following the traditional standards of life i.e. religion, faith etc. people have the option to take control and choose their own lifestyle. Berger described this process as individualization.

3.Increasing social diversity: rather than conforming to familial or religious beliefs people are afforded a more rational, scientific outlook and a combination of socially diverse beliefs and behavior through social blending. This diversity is a result of an industrial society's wearing away of the strong family ties and religious beliefs that once united people from various backgrounds.

4.Orientation toward the future and a growing awareness of time: time is of the essence for people focused on individual gain and an improved lifestyle. "Modern people are not only forward-looking but also optimistic that new inventions and discoveries will improve their lives" (Macionis, 2006, page 446). Schedules in modern society are based on the time on the clock rather than the rise and fall of the sun. Today time and money go hand in hand. "According to Berger, one indicator of a society's degree of industrialization is the share of people wearing wristwatches" Macionis, 2006, page 446).

The French sociologist Emile Durkheim (1893-1964) shared Ferdinand Tönnies's interest in social changes due to modernization. Emile Durkheim believed that… "Modernization was marked by an increasing division of labor, or specialized economic activity" (Macionis, 2006, page 457). Durkheim viewed pre-industrial societies as being held together by mechanical solidarity. Therefore, members of a society who perform the same type of work are basically the same and belong in the same category. "Durkheim's concept of mechanical solidarity is virtually the same as Tönnies's Gemeinschaft (theory) ((Macionis, 2006, page 457).

As a society becomes more modernized the division of labor becomes noticeable. This division of labor is believed to help unite the modernized society. "To Durkheim, this change means less...

References: olorado, E. (2007). Hot Fun. Latin Trade (English); Vol. 15 Issue 9, p52-55, 4p. Retrieved March 10, 2009, from http://web.ebscohost.comD 'Agostino, D. (2007). Defense Infrastructure: Full Costs and Security Implications of Cheyenne Mountain Realignment Have Not Been Determined: GAO-07-803R. GAO Reports; p1, 13p, 1 chart, 1 diagram, 1 graph. Retrieved March 10, 2009, from http://web.ebscohost.comMacionis, J. (2006). Society: The basics (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Zhang, B. (2007).The Modernization of Chinese Nuclear Forces and Its Impact on Sino-U.S. Relations. Asian Affairs: An American Review; Vol. 34 Issue 2, p87-100, 14p. Retrieved March 10, 2009, from
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