Modernization Theory’s Influence on Law and Development Movement


Modernization theory defines the process through which communities, nations, and the world in general move from undeveloped to civilized societies; according to the theory, development is a process supported by various governmental, societal, international, and nongovernmental institutions and policies. In the literature of developments and modernization, the role played by the government is crucial; however the government should exercise its powers to a certain limit. The process involves the transition of social, economic, and political systems prevailing in an economy for the benefit of the general good. Modernization theory make use of various social-economic and political evaluation tools like gross national product, purchasing parity, living standards, mechanization or industrialization to gauge the level of modernization that a certain country has attained (Andersen and Howard 252). This paper evaluates how the theory of modernization has changed overtime; it will analyze how the theory has shaped government and other stakeholders’ policies.

How the theory has influenced the law and development movement

The main augment of the theory is that policies and infrastructures need to be implemented to facilitate growth of different sectors. Modernization has affected the role that governments, international bodies, and civil society play in their efforts to maintain law and order that in turn facilitates development. The investment environment in countries determines the rate of investment in a country. When the environments are not attracting investments, then the government has to undertake strategic measures to ensure that it has facilitated investments. This can be through targeting certain industries, which are crucial for investment decisions in a country, and enhancing their capabilities in attracting investments (Theodorus 23).

The government continued role as a pillar through which development can be maintained in an economy has continued to be reinforced by modernization theory. For example, the energy sector is important for economic development and attracting investment. The government can control prices in such an industry and cover the deficit. This will make investors attracted by the low rate of production cost offered by such moves. In countries like China, the government has used this consideration to devise measure that reduces the rate of investment. There are times that the government becomes the investor in come strategic industries, which are considered low income generating; this is in the move to ensure that all essential products and services are available in a country (Timmons and Hite 45)

Cooperation among countries

Cooperation among countries is another pillar that has tested the test of time, whether in traditional setting or in modern economies, the relation that a country maintains with others has a crucial role. International trade brings about balances of payments (B.O.P.). For a healthy economy without a deficit in balance of payment, then imports should be of a lower cost than exports. To facilitate an increase export, or reduce importation, the government has a role to play. In facilitation of exports, the government offers incentives to exporters to increase their exportation (Mol 41). These incentives may be subsidies in production. To discourage importation, the government can increase taxes charged to imports and empower local companies to produce goods that were otherwise imported. When a country has a healthy balance of payment, its currency is strong making its goods and services competitive in the international markets (Margetts and Perri 12-32).

What aspects of modernization theory have continued unchanged?

Despite the changes happening in the world, there are some pillars that have remained unchanged; these are aspects that yielded positive results in the past and they continue to offer similar results. One such aspect is the need to have developmental infrastructures out in place; for an economy to grow there are some aspects that the government needs to address, they include transport and communication networks, security systems, internationals and national relations, and good governance (Blakely and Nancey 12-45).

Every economy has some potential that when well utilized, then it can be able to feed its citizens as well as develop policies for that effect. The unchanged parameters include:

The role played by politics

According to the modernization theory, the government is made up of political class, who control the economies of a country, they play the role of politicians and economic drivers, and however, political situation in the world is not stable. There have been changes and uncertainty in different countries. A country like Kenya in East Africa underwent tribal crashes in 2007 after a disputed election. The crisis affected the economy of the country. In November 2010, Ivory Coast in Central Africa had disputed election a move that have affected the country’s economic performance. In civilized countries like the United States of America, which is the world’s largest economy, the performance of the ruling class affects the economy positively and negatively. A country as China, which has the highest economic growth in the world, has a stable government from the above discussion, it is clear that one major functions of government is to ensure there is political stability in the country (Inglehart and Welzel 295).

Security needs

The government has the mandate of ensuring that the constitutional rights of every human being are respected. These rights include rights to protection, where the government provides security to its citizens. Security is from foreign and internal attackers. There are times that the government sets minimum or maximum prices of goods to ensure that consumers are not exploited. On the other hand, the government also sets standards required in a country; this is in the move to ensure that it has protected its consumers against substandard goods and services provided by businesspersons. There was another move made by Chinese government, which has been seen as a new government move where the government aims at reducing the rate of economic growth in the country (Wallace 72).

Foundations of developments/developmental pillars

Modernization theory is of the opinion that an economy can only grow when there are set frameworks and structures that it can lay its base on. The government has the mandate of providing infrastructures like roads and communication networks, which cannot be left in the hands of individuals. These infrastructures ensure that an economy has social resources that can be used by society members without paying for them directly. In time of disaster, the public sector is called upon to assist. This is in case of terror attacks, drought and floods. The government should have adequate machinery and mechanisms to ensure that in case of a disaster, it has assisted its own citizens and sometimes extend the help to other nations. Other social economic factors affect an economy. They include inflation and deflation. The government has the mandate of ensuring that its economy has neither excess funds (inflation) or has limited funds (Harrison 1-23).

What new ideas have challenged this theory?

In modern business world, there are some changes in technology that have led to change in governance style adopted in different countries. Different countries have started to adopt the policy of e-governance; other than adoption of technology, the role of government has been reshaped and seems to be taking a different angle. In many developing countries, government task has been limited to facilitation of economic development but letting forces of demand and supply control the economies. Forces of demand and supply control prices in modern capitalist economies, government intervention has been limited to provision of social services and laying of structures that assist the private sector compete effectively with other economies. Prices of goods and services as well as cost of production are determined with minimal government intervention. A perfect capitalist economy can only exist in an ideal situation and since there is no ideal situation, there are always some government controls, rules and regulations in an economy. In general, government controls the performance of an economy through fiscal and monetary policies. These policies are aimed at changing or controlling certain factors in the economy to enhance or limit production. Government participation varies among countries were developing countries need a higher involvement than developed countries (Cypher and Dietz 45-48).

To enhance modernization, economic development and stability in a nation, developmental parties and partners are expected to make strategic decisions, which define the pathway through which a country should follow to modernize. Contemporary economic, social, and political environments require not only politicians but country managers and leaders; the need has been increased by globalization that requires a country to make decisions that are not only responsive to the situations in their countries but also addresses any adverse effects from other economies.


Modernization theory views civilization as stemming from social, political, and economic development of countries; according to the theory, stakeholders of development must play their roles effectively fast-track development. Since the development of the theory, some pillars of development like the role of stakeholders and need for underlying physical and institutional infrastructure, continuous to be relevant despite effects of globalization. Globalization and technological development has re-defined the role played by government in modernization to that of offering favorable environment that enhances economical, political, and social development.

Works Cited

Andersen, Margaret, and Howard Taylor. Sociology: understanding a diverse society. London: Cengage Learning, 2007. Print.

Blakely, James, and Nancey Leigh. Planning local economic development: theory and practice. New Jersey: SAGE, 2009.Print.

Cypher, James, and Dietz, James. The process of economic development. New York: Taylor & Francis, 2008. Print.

Harrison, David. The Sociology of Modernization and Development. London: Routledge, 1988. Print.

Inglehart, Ronald, and Welzel Christian. Modernization, cultural change, and democracy: the human development sequence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Print.

Margetts, Helen, and Perri Hood. Paradoxes of modernization: unintended consequences of public policy reform. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. Print.

Mol ,Arthur. Globalization and Environmental Reform: The Ecological Modernization of the Global Economy. New York: MIT Press, 2003. Print.

Theodorus, Blokland. Modernization and its political consequences: Weber, Mannheim, and Schumpeter. Yales: Yale University Press, 2006. print.

Timmons, Roberts, and Hite Amy. From modernization to globalization: perspectives on development and social change. New Jersey: Wiley-Blackwell, 2000. Print.

Wallace, Preston. Theories of development. New York: Taylor & Francis, 1982. Print.

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