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The Handbook of Political, Social, and Economic Transformation$
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Wolfgang Merkel, Raj Kollmorgen, and Hans-Jürgen Wagener

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198829911

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198829911.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 17 June 2021

Modernization Theories

Modernization Theories

(p.55) Chapter 5 Modernization Theories
The Handbook of Political, Social, and Economic Transformation

Raj Kollmorgen

Oxford University Press

Modernization theories represent one of the most important and most controversial approaches in transformation research. After their golden age in the 1950s and 1960s, they came under pressure by alternative approaches like World-Systems Analysis or actor-centred transition approaches. But modernization theories have experienced a renaissance with the epochal threshold of 1989/90 and the subsequent wave of democratization. Today, three major currents can be identified: neo-evolutionist approaches, structuralist modernization theory, and the approach of multiple modernities or comparative historical sociology. They consider transformation as a specific type of accelerated transition of traditional, partly, or alternatively modernized societies to hegemonic social modernity. Although all approaches have elaborated an explanatory interpretation framework for empirical analysis often combining various social levels, dimensions, and factors (like structures and actors, or economic and cultural factors), there is considerable need for further research and self-reflection concerning normative foundations, causal mechanisms, and their empirical operationalization, as well as ‘postmodern’ challenges.

Keywords:   modernization theory, modernity, neo-evolutionist approaches, structuralist theory, multiple modernities, democratization, comparative historical sociology, normative foundation, sequence of modernization

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