Theory of Neo-Modernization - Political Philosophy

The theory of neo-modernization

The achievements of the countries of South-East Asia, who chose the national modernization models, in many ways contributed to a radical turn in modernization theory.

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Samuel Huntington was one of the first Western researchers who wrote about the advantages of traditionalism in the field of modernization: "Not only modern societies include many traditional elements, but also traditional societies, in turn, often have such features, which are usually considered modern. The tradition must be studied. In addition, modernization can strengthen the tradition of "."

The main problem of neo-modernization theory was the search for new factors that ensure the dynamics of constructive political actions in modernization processes, which required a further revision of the theory. To replace the discredited concept of forced modernization came the provisions on the protection, preservation, revival and support of socio-cultural diversity, pluralism of ways and ways of life, providing them with freedom of existence and development.


The concept of the wave-like development of modernization offers an interesting solution to the problem of the effectiveness of modernization activities. Supporters of this theory insist on the necessity of alternating innovative and stabilizing cycles: the periods of introduction of innovation in the fabric of society must be replaced by a relaxing stabilization of social development based on the reproduction and use of traditions.

The modern concept of neo-modernization along with the idea of ​​secular organization of social life includes the recognition of the importance of religion and mythology in the spiritual sphere, respect for charisma of traditional leadership, veneration of the elders' authority in politics, and the use of the idea of ​​collectivist cohesion of society. The traditional values ​​of kinship, family, factors of significance of group identification and solidarity are also completely rehabilitated.

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To the United States philosopher A. Akhiezer (1929-2007), this allowed to formulate the course of neo-modernization in the form of a creative paradox: "... the task is to pass between the Scylla of conservative traditionalism, threatening stagnation, unable to meet the growing needs and the cause of the discomforting state, and the Charybdis of utopian abstract liberalism, which carries the possibility of the same state, but for entirely different reasons, i.e. as a result of attempts to change the situation, to give it a dynamic character, to sever sharply the massive values ​​of ".

Unified views on the model of political action in the modernization process have now been replaced by a multifactor approach: it became obvious that the pace, rhythm and consequences of modernization reforms in different countries depend on the traditions of political culture, the mentality and way of life.

It is no accident that the famous German conflictologist Ralph Dahrendorf (1929-2009) warned modern reformers of the "Cavalry Attack" and shock therapy: the political actions of modernizers should be designed to consistently transform the deep layers of life, attitudes and values ​​in civil society. If six months can be sufficient to implement the constitutional reform, economic transformations may not be enough for several decades, and cultural transformation must be designed for several generations.


Brazilian historian Nelson Werneck Sodre suggested a rather extravagant image of the "square wheel" to explain the model of modernization actions. The political action in the modernization process should resemble a wheel that creaks with a creak across the edge between the edges, rising noticeably, and then freezes on a new verge - and here begins a period of rapid development, very uneven and one-sided, requiring enormous efforts and exhausting resources, which again comes a period of stagnation and stagnation.

If earlier modernization was interpreted as a decision taken by an educated elite and imposed on the resisting population, which clings to traditional values ​​and way of life, today it is about avoiding naive political voluntarism in the process of transformation. The practice of reforms has shown that not everything that is desired is achievable and depends on a simple political will. It is also impossible to count on the effectiveness of modernization, proceeding solely from the indicators of economic growth: it is much more important for the stabilization of social development to form new values ​​of the community that would not contradict the old traditional foundations but develop them in a new direction.

With all the diversity of models of neo-modernization, most of them today are aimed at finding stabilizing factors that contribute to the preservation of civilizational identity, the development and strengthening of traditions. The idea of ​​reinterpreting traditions in the spirit of modernity in the process of reform is an important task of the political elite. It is the elite that must prove to the people that its historical heritage is actual and constructive, i.е. is able, under conditions of reforms, to serve as the basis for the dynamic development of society and thereby provide the necessary motivations for effective political action.

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