IRLS 302 Some Reflections - Chinese Studies in History vol...

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72 Chinese Studies in History , vol. 43, no. 1, Fall 2009, pp. 72–98. © 2009 M.E. Sharpe, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN 0009–4633 / 2009 $9.50 + 0.00. DOI 10.2753/CSH0009-4633430107 W ANG J IAFENG Some Reflections on Modernization Theory and Globalization Theory Commemorating the Twentieth Anniversary of Luo Rongqu’s Thesis “One Direction with Multiple Paths in History” Abstract: During the late 1970s the once-popular theory of modernization gradu- ally faded away, to be replaced by globalization theory. The reason for this change is that Westerners, especially Americans, have seen their concerns for the future greatly increase. Therefore, they began to change from “Americanization” or “Westernization,” which holds in itself certain elements of altruism, to a more self- serving Westernization or Americanization. In addition, more thorough research, changes in people’s understanding, and development in the real world have caused some assumptions in the old modernization theory to lose ground. Our country is currently engaged in an all-out modernization effort, so we should follow Luo Rongqu’s good example in dealing with contemporary globalization theory, just as he dealt with the theory of modernization. We should start from the basic principles of historical materialism while examining China’s and the world’s development from various angles to understand modernization and globalization. During the several decades after the end of World War II, the theory of moderniza- tion, which originated in the United States, had tremendous influence in the social sciences throughout the world. Since the 1990s, however, the theory of globalization gradually took the position that modernization theory used to hold and soon became the most important theory or group of theories influencing all the disciplines of the Translation © 2009 by M.E. Sharpe, Inc., from the Chinese text: “Guanyu xiandaihua lilun, quanqiuhua lilun de yixie sikao.” Translated by Xiansheng Tian. Wang Jiafeng is a professor of history at Zhejiang Normal University, Jinhua, Zhejiang province.
FALL 2009 73 world’s social sciences. Starting from the beginning of our country’s opening-up and reforms, we also went through some of the same experiences. The decline of modernization theory in the West, especially in the United States, has some inherent causes. But for developing countries, modernization should always be the major concern despite Westerners’ efforts to give an extravagant account of globalization. As the largest developing country in the world, China is going through its all-out modernization at the current time, so it is necessary for us to study the relations between these two theories as well as other related problems for our own cause of modernization today. Objects of Study in the Theories of Modernization and Globalization, and Relations Between the Two As a new ideological trend in the social sciences, modernization theory was born in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s. In its prime, there was

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