Term Paper: Traditional and Modern Societies

Pages: 3 (799 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Sociology  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] e., specialization of work/functions is prevalent. The shift from a traditional to a modern society requires a change in the structure of the society; thus, a change from the self-sufficiency to specialization of work happens, which is the nature of capitalist or modern societies.

This change has successfully occurred in the Western societies, who are the pioneers of capitalism at the turn of the 19th century. Non-Western societies, on the other hand, have remained traditional, and still subsisted to the self-sufficient and collectivist orientation of their societies. The failure of non-Western societies to adapt to changes in modernization is, in fact, not a manifestation of the non-responsive nature of societies in the region. What occurred is a different reaction from that of the Western societies, since non-Western societies have a radically different culture from that of the Western societies. Because of these cultural differences, "...the types of international systems that developed here were rather new and unique..." changing the nature of modernization in non-Western societies (193).

Thus, the rise of socialism, according to the author, is "a reaction to the tension between the ideals of the French Revolution and the outcome of the Industrial or capitalist revolution... It is wholly based in European tradition and experience" (195). In this statement, the author seeks to reconcile the seemingly contradicting patterns of change between Western and non-Western societies with the onset of modernization. In effect, Elsenstadt argues that despite its contradictions to the principles of capitalism, socialism is nevertheless a product of modernization, wherein the fusion of traditional society and non-Western societies' adherence to collectivism and rituals led to the creation of a new kind of society. Since non-Western societies have an altogether different economic, political, and social organization from the Western societies, the effect of modernization ("European expansion") is also different in the non-Western experience. Instead of capitalism, socialism became the most popular and preferred system of society.

In sum, the rise of socialism in non-Western and spread of capitalism in Western societies are both fruits of modernization, and differed only because of the contradicting nature of both societies, resulting to varied outcomes, with Western nations adopting the capitalist system, while the non-Western nations subsisting to socialism.


Elsenstadt, S.N. "European expansion and the civilization of modernity" [END OF PREVIEW]

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