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Nothing wrong with trying to reduce complex phenomena to more simply defined ones - or at least to try to explain complex phenomena with respect to a few variables and see how well those variables can explain observed data.  But you then have to understand that you are working with your model of reality, and not with reality itself.  And the model you use may well help to determine the results you achieve.  The observer (and his/her mindset/model) is part of the processes he observes.

There is no doubt that the "modernisation" model appeals to (even if it is not confined to) the "advanced" societal mindset which implicitly sees a progressive evolution from feudal/agricultural to urban/industrial and post industrial "advanced" "knowledge" based societies.  It's about understanding (and helping) underdeveloped societies to develop and become more like us.

Its a sucker argument if you want to pull in the research funding dollars...

Equally, it can be argued, that even Marxist class based analyses also contain deterministic evolutionary elements (feudal, capitalistic, socialistic) or that a religious model - which defines everything in terms of a theological understanding of God/Allah's will - is also as much about shaping how societies can develop as it is about describing how they have/can develop.  Your research dollars come from different sources if these are the models you want to apply.

The "success" of the western modernisation model - as defined by its post WW2 - economic/political/technological/military success - has radically shaped hearts and minds - and it is not surprising that many people, in both the "developed" and "undeveloped" world subscribe to it - even if only unconsciously.  But is that a measure of the theory's innate explanatory power, or of the political/economic forces that have made it the dominant mode of popular (and elite) consciousness?

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Apr 20th, 2009 at 07:20:12 AM EST
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