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Title: Modernity and diversity: Reflections on the controversy between modernization theory and the theory of multiple modernities
Authors: Schmidt, V.H. 
Keywords: Convergence
Multiple modernists
Issue Date: May-2011
Citation: Schmidt, V.H. (2011-05). Modernity and diversity: Reflections on the controversy between modernization theory and the theory of multiple modernities. Sociedade e Estado 26 (2) : 155-183. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: The article revisits modernization theory's convergence claim, which has been strongly criticized by multiple modernists, who maintain that emerging realities have not borne out its underlying premises. Based on a thorough reading of classical texts, the article reconstructs the term's meaning within a modernization-theoretical frame of reference and then considers the evidence that multiple modernists hold against it. It finds that none of the observations cited by leading multiple modernists are able to challenge modernization theory, which can easily accommodate the kinds of difference invoked by its critics. East-Asian modernity in particular, to which both sides assign special weight for any test of modernization theory, appears remarkably similar to Western modernity when viewed through the lenses of this theory. At the same time, the literature on multiple modernities, despite pleading to take difference seriously, is silent about differences that large parts of the less-developed world exhibit vis-a-vis the West and East Asia in social-structural and cultural respects, indicating different degrees of modernization. The article concludes with a brief note on the differential weight of different kinds of diversity for different reference problems and a suggestion for a constructive resolution of the conflict between the two approaches.
Source Title: Sociedade e Estado
ISSN: 01026992
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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