Modernization theory refers to a political science paradigm predominant in the 1950s and 1960s in the United States developed at the end of the global colonial era to account for the differences between developed Western countries and underdeveloped countries and to explain sociopolitical and economic transformations in the latter. Former colonial territories in Asia, Latin America, and Africa were generally considered underdeveloped because of their lack of industrialization. Underdeveloped nations were commonly referred to during this period as Third World countries. Many of these countries were also described as nonaligned, not being committed to either the Soviet or the American side during the cold war.

Modern Societies and Traditional Societies

Modernization theory was heavily based on 19th-century sociological perspectives that relied on the fundamental division between traditional ...

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