Meaning and Causes of Modernization in Sociology


In sociological terms, modernisation refers to the transformation of a rural, agrarian, and traditional society into an urban, industrial, and secular society. Modernization in India took its root after the nation’s contact with the Western societies and the establishment of British rule. As a result, many social and cultural changes approached the country. 

Meaning of Modernisation 

1. S.H. Alatas:

“Modernization is a process by which modern scientific knowledge is introduced in the society with the ultimate purpose of achieving a better and a more satisfactory life in the broadest sense of the term as accepted by the society concerned”.

2. Rutow and Ward (1964):

“The basic process in Modernization is the application of modern science to human affairs.”

3. Daniel Lerner:

“Modernization is the current term for an old process of social change whereby less developed societies acquire the characteristics common to more developed societies”.

4. Prof. Yogendra Singh:

“Modernization symbolizes a rational attitude towards issues and their evaluation but not from a particularistic point of view”.

5. Smelser:

Modernisation refers to

“a complex set of changes that take place almost in every part of society as it attempts to be industrialized. Modernization involves ongoing change in a society’s economy, politics, education, traditions, and religion”.

Causes of Modernisation 

1. Mass Communication:

“The mass media is the device that can spread the requisite knowledge and attitudes quickly and widely”.

Due to this, people can be largely influenced by what they consume through media.

2. Urbanisation and Industrialisation:

These interrelated processes can also birth modernisation by leading to the development of new and innovative technologies. 

3. Strong Government Authority:

If the government of a country is strong and authoritative, it may influence the people to adapt to the modern changes. 

4. Nationalism Ideology:

Nationalism revolves around political consensus and national awareness and nationalistic ideologies can bridge the gap between different societies and hence, one culture can be influenced by the other. 

5. Social inequality:

Education yields a sense of national loyalty. It is said that,

“National development depends upon a change in knowledge — what people know, skills — what people can do, and attitudes – what people can aspire and hope to get”.

Eisenstadt opines,

“modernisation is historically a process of change that is oriented towards social, economic and political systems like Western Europe.”

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