Walt Whitman Rostow


1- Rostow's view of modernization was subjected to a harsh critique by the dependency school. What is the main difference(s) between Rostow's view and the dependency theory? What is the problem of Rostow's methodology in your view?

Walt Whitman Rostow,anAmericaneconomistand political theorist, presented the five stages of economic modernization, which are traditional society, preconditions for take-off, take-off, drive to maturity, and high mass consumption. Rostow asserted that countries go through each of these stages; however the transitions periods may occur at different lengths from country to country, and even from region to region. On the other hand the dependency theory states that resources flow from a "periphery" of poor and underdeveloped states to a "core" of wealthy states, enriching the latter at the expense of the former. The main concept of the dependency theory is that the poor states are impoverished and rich ones enriched by the way poor states are integrated into the "world system". In spite of existing similarities between Modernization theory and Dependency theory, differences between them are much more substantial and it is even possible to estimate that these theories are antagonistic in their views on the development of the world and international relationships, especially on the relationship between developed and developing countries. In fact, differences between Modernization theory and Dependency theory result from the origin of Dependency theory which was developed in response to Modernization theory. Firstly, the Dependency theory reversed the optics of the modernization theory, viewing developmentinwardfrom the periphery rather than outward from the core, it recognized that local conditions are influenced primarily by a nation's subordinate position in the global economic hierarchy. So basically the dependency theory, unlike the modernization theory, believes that the poor countries are destined to be dependent on the rich ones and that the issue is not that they are in a lower stage than others, but it's their natural place in the world system. Also Rostow's methodology has many problems; as despite its appeal, the Rostow model proved to be seriously flawed. The linear-stages-of-growth model blamed developing countries' stagnation on internal factors, namely a lack of internal savings and investment. The model assumed that if these components were put into developing countries through direct foreign investment or aid, economic growth would naturally follow. Rostow's "theory" was not a theory; rather it was taxonomy and, therefore, had no predictive usefulness. The stages could not be precisely identified as time intervals. Empirically, the preconditions for take-off could not be distinguished from take-off proper. Most important, sustained growth did not always follow the stage identified as "take-off" in some countries. To sum it up, Rostow's perspective is dependent on a Marxist premise: that all nations follow a predetermined historical path. Likewise, the dependency theory depends on a fundamental premise of classical economic theory: that individuals are rational economic actors, behaving rationally, and differences in their behavior are due to differences in their situations or in the information available to them. Despite their flaws, these two theories still represent an important part of developmental economics.

3- Economists always see economic modernization in a positive view. But Huntington sees modernization as full of political threats. How and why?

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Modernization is viewed by most people as a beneficial and progressive step towards a better social, political, and economic life. Modernization is basically the transition from a traditional society to a modern one. However Samuel Phillips Huntington anAmericanpolitical scientistwho gained wider prominence through his''Clash of Civilizationsthesis'', believes that modernization is a dangerous thing, which is filled with numerous threats to the political well being of the state. Huntington believes that the dominant political characteristics of developing countries in the late twentieth century were situations of violence, instability, and political chaos. He argued that the key to understanding the political systems of these countries was an analysis of the causes of such violence and instability. (For Huntington, violence and instability were normatively [or at least instrumentally] "bad," in that development [which was "good"] was impossible as long as violence and instability were endemic.) In other words,Huntington argues that stability is necessary for development. Huntington believes that modernization is good but the major obstacle to development is the process of getting there (the modernization process). The state of modernity, once attained, produces and is characterized by, stability. However, the process of achieving modernity (the modernization process) is characterized by violence and instability. Huntington stated that as societies modernize, they become more complex and disordered; as he believes that modernization will cause social and economic changes. Huntington's argument is that the violence and instability of the modernization period are caused by the increasing political participation and awareness of the population which occurs during this period. The modernization process ends the centuries-old isolation of many people, exposes them to new ideas and values, and instills new aspirations. When aspirations are frustrated by political systems which can not, or will not, meet the new demands and desires of the people, then the new political participants rebel. This causes problems for the political system, since rebellion leads to violence. Therefore; I believe that the world's developing nations are characterized by instability and violence precisely because they are currently involved in the modernization process. New participants enter the political system, find their demands unmet, and react by using violence against the system and its rulers. Their violent actions are means of political participation and expression. So if the rates of social mobilization and the expansion of political participation are high; while the rates of political organization and institutionalism are low, the result will be political instability and disorder.

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