Future of Modernization
Result of Past Modernization
Modernization began occurring after industrialization and currently manifests itself within America’s “McCulture” which is focused on facts, efficiency, and money (Macionis, 2006). Peter Berger predicted the weakening of close community ties that once revolved around family and neighborhood “that, while limiting choice, [offered] a strong sense of identity, belonging, and purpose” (Macionis, 2006, p. 456). As society’s view focused on rationalization that further developed the division of labor into highly specialized roles in growing city populations, citizens came to know each other according to their job titles rather than by affiliation groups or hometown (Macionis, 2006).
The technological advancements that were promised by the modernization into a capitalist society to provide rational solutions for human problems have fallen short and consolidated most of the world’s wealth into the hands of a fortunate few, thereby causing feelings of powerlessness and social inequality to remain (Macionis, 2006). Society’s shift in focus on science and rationalization developed the expectations that this new world view would solve some conditions of human suffering, but instead has created increasing “cultural diversity and rapid social change [that] make it difficult for people in modern societies to define what is morally good, develop stable identities, and find meaning in their lives” (Macionis, 2006, p. 463). Industrialization instilled individual materialistic values while the computer information revolution refocused society’s perspective on ideas, such as future environmental concerns due to the increasing human population (Macionis, 2006).
Consequences of Modernization
As more efficient technology is being developed, some form of modernization is likely to continue in the United States. Modernization has had the consequences of dehumanizing society by weakening tradition through providing more choices, cultural diversity, new ideas, and impersonally isolated social interactions characteristic of individualism (Macionis, 2006). Though “increased wealth, development of citizenship, expansion of opportunities and autonomy are some of the aspects of successful modernization” (Bulmahn, 2000, p. 397), these processes of transformation ultimately leave people feeling more alone, insecure, and dejected (Bulmahn, 2000).
Along with severing connections with one another, modernization creates a division between country and city that produces “a metabolic rift between ecological processes and economic processes” (York, Rosa, & Dietz, 2003, p. 294). In other words, the more people focus on a materialistic economy the less focus is given to the ecological impact of human actions. Capitalism is an economy primarily concerned with gaining more profits, causing production and consumption to steadily increase (Macionis, 2006).
Overall, modernization has developed an individualized society based on a sense of worth dictated by the amount of superficially materialistic purchases one has acquired, removing humans further from their “true” purpose and the natural world. Macionis (2006) asserts that “the size, complexity, and tolerance of [the] diversity of modern societies all but doom traditional values and family patterns, leaving individuals isolated, powerless, and materialistic” (p. 461). With most of the world’s wealth residing in a few rich nations, poor nations are left without opportunities to modernize, furthering social inequality and conflict (Macionis, 2006). Ortega, Corzine, Burnett, and Poyer (1992) confirm that economic development is a critical factor of modernization that increases the rate of violent crimes.
Future of Modernization
As nations industrialize, Shandra, Nobles, London, and Williamson (2005) point out that economic and social modernization produce high levels of development and education that decrease child mortality rates within developing nations. Steele (2004) claims “that modernization is pushing the globe in directions that deny many of the ends of the good life for different “communities” (any bounded space) and put the environment of the planet at risk for future generations” (p. 374). Surucu (2002) explains that “a less traumatic, more effective path of modernization requires harmonization of tradition and [modernism]” (p. 395). With automobiles, factories, pollution, increased successful births, lowered mortality rates among the elderly, and overpopulation, the effectiveness of future modernization rests on processes that promote a globally sustainable environment.
With modern societies focus on the diminishing condition of the environment, it is not difficult to understand why some theorists claim that “modernization will lead industry to become more ecologically rational, that is, to weigh the costs and benefits of ecological disruption and take steps to minimize environmental externalities, just as modernization also drives industry to be more economically rational” (York, Rosa, & Dietz, 2003, p. 285). To be successful, the processes of future modernization must consider the extinction of natural resources, the harmful environmental effects from industrialization, and the impersonality of individualism developed from past modernization.
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