Cultural Modernization According to Sequence

Left: Professor                                Center: Student                                    Right: Gadfly


  1. A database harboring a plethora of latent hypothesis,
  2.    Is the World Value Surveys.
  3. For values comprise an element of cleavage,
  4.    And are therefore a researchable condition,
  5.        For political development.
  6. Inglehart and Welzel (2005) collapse empirical political reality,
  7.     Into [bipolar] materialist and postmaterialist values.[i]
  8. This collapsing is necessary because it groups clusters,
  9.     Of similar circumstances—distinguishing cultures,
  10.         For the classroom.
  11. Today’s book: Modernization, Culture Change and Democracy:
  12.    The Human Development Sequence,
  13.         Deserves a serious look.
  14. I believe that you, Brano, will present today,
  15.    A synopsis to begin our debate?
  16. Brano cleared his throat and began:
  17. There is a unique path and sequence,
  18. Of economic and political modernization.
  19. There are two crucial steps in their analysis:
  20. Industrialization and post-industrialization.
  21. Socio-economic development gives birth to
  22. A universal type of cultural adaptation,
  23. Which sincerely predicts,
  24. Future political developments—this predicts,
  25. Democracy’s development.
  26. Industrialization enables the people to move away from,
  27. The culture of survival.
  28. Survival is seen as religious and traditional; hence,
  29. There begins the growth of cultural secularism.
  30. Cultural secularism matures into values of,
  31. Self-expression.
  32. The oxygen produced by self-expression is,
  33. Individual freedom.
  34. This air of culture provides the framework for,
  35. Democratization.
  36. The professor breaks in:
  37. So modernization does actually bring about liberal democracy; when,
  38.    The former sequence of socio-economic development,
  39.       Is alive according to the transition from industrialization to,
  40.          Post-industrialization?
  41. Right. Democratization is born by the behavior,
  42. Of human beings.
  43. After all, government is a reflection of the peoples’
  44. Values and attitudes.
  45. Therefore, economic development impacts democracy because,
  46. It reshapes the peoples’ goals and objectives.
  47. The argument clearly is:
  48. (1)    Economic development favors
  49. (2)    Democratic values, hence,
  50. (3)    Democratic institutions.
  51. They propose that economic development gives rise to
  52. Self-expression values endogenous to factions.
  53. I imagine that the entrepreneur would like to create,
  54. A brand.
  55. In turn, the cultural change to self-expression demands,
  56. Autonomous choice for institutions.
  57. Therefore, democracy is ready to take center stage,
  58. When numerous ordinary citizens,
  59. Prioritize self-determination, and,
  60. They have the skills and resources,
  61. To create that change.
  62. Autonomy and self-expression are therefore a necessary condition?
  63. Yet isn’t it exactly the case in dictatorships, like China in 2012,
  64.    Where the people expressing themselves are placed in detention?
  65. Brano was quick:
  66. If I were Inglehart or Welzel, I would argue,
  67. That it is the value of self-expression in the hearts of the people,
  68. That matter—not state repression or speech curfews.
  69. After all—they are providing a theory for when,
  70. The people will be ready for democratic transition.
  71. Well done. I suppose that would be their argument.
  72. Laughter from random students fills the classroom.
  73.   Thank you Brano for the introduction.
  74.    Now let’s continue to comprehend,
  75.       This cultural theory of modernization.
  76. There are two main dimensions:
  77.     Traditional values versus secular-rational values [form I],
  78.     Survival values versus self-expression values [form II].
  79. These two dimensions, via factor analysis—a correlation matrix,
  80.     Present national mean values for 10 variables.
  81. Every country thus is pinpointed,
  82.    On a two-dimensional cultural map.
  83. Since Modernization [form I] is a consequence of industrialization,
  84.    Secular-rational values are opposed to traditional values—those shunned.
  85. Modernization [form II] is a consequence of post-industrialization.
  86.    For self-expression values rival against survival values in transformation.
  87. Modernization is a consequence of economic growth, whereas,
  88.    Low-income countries are both traditional,
  89.      And survival values dominate the culture’s course.
  90. The most “developed” nations are not the United States or the U.K.
  91.     But Japan and the Scandinavian states.
  92. The United States has a very high factor score on self-expression,
  93.    But it straddles the traditional versus secular-rational axis.
  94. Survival values being a priority for economic and physical security,
  95.    Also make a country seem,
  96.       Held back from significant development.
  97. The link to democratization is postulated for the
  98.    Survival/self-expression dimension.
  99. Liberal democracy, according to the Freedom House index
  100.    For civil liberties and political rights from effective democracy,
  101. Is an index multiplied with an index of elite integrity,
  102.    Using anticorruption scores from the World Bank.
  103. Self-expression values at the level of the electorate
  104.  Do explain effective democracy with democratic institutions,
  105.     When they are aligned and present.
  106. Here culture clashes with the institutions.
  107. Exactly. They test congruence in the political systems [stability]
  108.   Whereas mass values align with values institutionalized
  109.      In the political-system.
  110. The former reveals an index of civil liberties and political rights;
  111.     Against self-expression values, i.e., democracy.
  112. The change to democracy through the third democratization wave,
  113.    Was most salient for countries with wide ranges of congruence;
  114.        Where an undersupply of democracy compared,
  115.            To the peoples’ demand for freedom!
  116. The title of Chapter 1 is thus not a pun:
  117. A Revised Theory of Modernization.
  118. Yes. This new theme of modernization means
  119.    That human choice is evolving toward
  120.       An increasingly humanistic society.
  121. And only effective democracy will allow for this stable culture shift,
  122.    To grow healthy and industrious.
  123. Brano asked:
  124. Therefore dictatorships do have an incentive to transition?
  125. It would certainly seem so.
  126. But if the ideal now the Scandinavian countries, Japan or Switzerland,
  127. Instead of the United States or the United Kingdom…
  128. Doesn’t this still leave us with the criticism,
  129. That a few countries today become a reduction to fetishism?
  130. Perhaps. Let’s evaluate that.
  131. There are predictions about the human development sequence,
  132.    A unique path and sequence of economic and political modernization;
  133.       Through industrialization and post-industrialization.
  134. For socio-economic development gives birth to specific cultural change,
  135.     And like breastfeeding—‘tis universal with decisive influence,
  136.       On future political developments.
  137. Is the full-grown [wo]man,
  138.  “Democracy,” by chance?
  139. Of course—‘tis cultural modernization theory; after all.
  140. Industrialization makes possible a move away from
  141.    The culture of survival, which is religious,
  142.       To the development of a culture of secularism,
  143.           Which embraces multi-pluralism.
  144. Cannot religious societies embrace religious freedom?
  145. Not when religious law accounts for political dissidents,
  146.    To be stoned.
  147. Woe, the professor’s voice was low:
  148. Post-industrialization then causes a cultural shift,
  149.    From secularism to values of self-expression.
  150.         ‘Tis self-expression which enables the freedom,
  151.              Of political and cultural entrepreneurism.
  152. Values of self-expression, along with growing individual freedoms,
  153.    Provide the cultural framework that causes democratization.
  154. Therefore, modernization does bring about liberal democracy,
  155.    So long as a framework of socio-economic development
  156.      In the transition from industrialization to post-industrialization,
  157.         Is manifest and dominant therein.
  158. Inglehart and Welzel’s book is hence a crucial cultural piece,
  159.     Of the modernization theory, simply because it integrates,
  160.        Culture as integral to the story.
  161. So modernization is not just a product of economic development,
  162.    But also a product of cultural transformation.
  163. But can we really expect a single human development sequence?
  164. They contend that peoples will continue to live,
  165.    Within their own cultural horizons, but,
  166.       Over time, all advance the same political outcome:
  167.          Hear, democratization.
  168. Human progress follows a specific sequence,
  169.    Yet societies may move backwards to traditional settings.
  170. So long as society has travelled from survival to self-expression,
  171.     There is sincere hope for democratization.
  172. On the other hand, a state cannot force democracy upon,
  173.      Societies not culturally ready for democratic transition.
  174. Brano felt his ducks were aligned:
  175. So “bringing democracy” to a place,
  176. Not culturally ready for its embrace,
  177. Is a pretext or farce on its face?
  178. The professor felt as if the “hot seat” was on,
  179. And so slowed the tempo, yet recognized the confrontation:
  180. Yes. There is a relationship between culture and politics.
  181. A comparative comparativists interjected:
  182. But isn’t “modernization” synonymous with “westernization”?
  183. And isn’t this an anti-pluralistic belief,
  184. That all states will turn-out like said “free democracies”?
  185. Excellent. It might be that attitudinal surveys alone cannot advance,
  186.    Actual relationships to westernization.
  187. The Human development sequence does allow for distinct cultures,
  188.     And does purport that when they evolve,
  189.         That they will travel down similar paths:
  190.           From industrialization to post-industrialization,
  191.               And now we come to the important math.
  192. The math, like explaining symmetry in geometry,
  193.    Does process a singular type of cultural change,
  194.       Which ends in a singular type of political dispensation:
  195.          Liberal democracy. But this is, recall, a theory!
  196. Hasn’t Einstein been overturned by new developments—
  197.    Almost completely?
  198. Understanding looks from the students,
  199. Prevail upon the developments derived from the book.
  200. The theory is causally mechanistic in its approach to human development.
  201. It does assume a singular form of progress not easily demonstrated.
  202. It does reflect upon modernization theory derived from western countries.[ii]
  203. The data comes from massive questionnaires, which do reflect western culture.
  204. Thus the theory has been criticized as self-fulfilling and as a tautological vulture.
  205. However, I have yet to read a wiser book addressing these complex questions,
  206.     That provides a theory to explain how and why countries are developing,
  207.           And calling for democracy—please see the Arab Spring!
  208. Oh, the students were dismayed.
  209. For they felt that they were being taught,
  210. To do one thing one day—
  211. Then reproach it as an improper way:
  212. Professor, you once said that grand theory is for bookshelves.
  213. I thought we were supposed to follow in Geddes footsteps.
  214. We were to avoid paradigms which invariably produce numerous anomalies,
  215. For it ends in superficial political theory?
  216. Worse than that: some say the theory herein is normative;
  217.    Describing what the scientists want to see instead of,
  218.        Explaining how it is.
  219. When do self-expression values undermine modernization?
  220. Well done. That is the premiere critical question.
  221. Now get into groups of two,
  222.    According to an alphabetizing,
  223.        Of your first name, please.
  224. How could you perform a large-N study,
  225.    Reflecting cultural reality across countries?
  226. What mechanisms link the society and state,
  227.    To the way they are governing,
  228.        The political play?
  229. Exactly how does culture cut-across behavioral joints?
  230. And what are the cultural delineations you will implore,
  231.     To differentiate the cultures in society’s décor?
  232. Brano asked:
  233. Might our group use Inglehart and Welzel; for,
  234. I do believe they provide an excellent door,
  235. For values located at culture’s core!
  236. The professor smiled and remained silent,
  237.    Nodding and waving a hand,
  238.       Eager to hear how they would experiment,
  239.           Hopeful of new hypothesis to be cast.




[i] This poem is really an analysis of: Inglehart and Welzel. 2005. Modernization, Cultural Change and Democracy: The Human Development Sequence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[ii] This theory is another line of Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, which explained the cultural transformation of western society to capitalism and entrepreneurial freedom.



2 thoughts on “Cultural Modernization According to Sequence

  1. Pingback: Learn Comparative Politics–Week 2 Reading « Political Pipeline

  2. Pingback: “Course Pack” for Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Course | Political Pipeline

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