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Modernization Theory

Theories of modernization define and position “modern” societies at the positive end of a linear development spectrum. Contemporary modernization theories draw on 19th and early 20th century European and U.S. sociology, including social Darwinism and theories of social order in the shift from community to society associated with urbanization and industrialization. Writing during the optimistic boom of the 1950s and emergent Cold War, economic historian Walter Rostow famously formalized modernization theory as stages of economic growth in a book subtitled A Non-Communist Manifesto. The stages span from traditional society through “takeoff” industrialization to a mass consumer society. The change from one stage to the next, in linear succession, was argued to be based on both an inherent societal tendency toward optimal paths of growth ...

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