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Background of Rostow's theory

Question:

Discuss about the History and Politics for Modernisation Theory.

Underdevelopment and development are matters that date back in the days. After the end of World War II, The USA has risen to become a superpower through putting in incredible efforts. Subsequently, the third world countries have been cognizant of colonial rule matters, and currently, they pay attention to issues associated with development. In the 20th centuries a critical thinker, economist, government official Walt Whitman Rostow came up with a five-stage development model that applies to all countries. According to Gilman (2003), the model was significant in that the idea was that countries could develop economically through directing their resources that are low in supply to reach the worldwide market and not the homegrown industries and enhance economic growth through additionally financing development. Rostow took an industrial method as asserted by Andrews and Bawa (2014) and recommended that developed countries have a trend of passing through five stages to rise to their present point of economic development. The primary interest of this essay is to analyze Rostow's 'Modernisation Theory' of Development.

At this stage, the economic system is static, subjugated by subsistence agriculture, characterized by traditional cultivating forms. The traditional step as noted by (Rostow, 2008), describes traditional society as one whose development is based on science and technology that is pre-Newtonian. Rostow observes this stage as absolutely stationary, but a step where there could be an increase through land extension under finding and spread of new crops or cultivation. The kind of society pumps most of their resources to agriculture characterized by a structure that is hierarchical hence low vertical and social mobility. The capital stock is of low quality and inadequate causing low productivity of labor. It thus results in leaving a surplus output that’s little to be sold in the local and international markets.

At this stage, the investment rates are increasing commencing dynamic development. It is characterized by large developments such as a surge in the use of capital in agriculture, mining industries, growth in savings/ investments and need for outside funding. The dimensions are associated with a change from traditional society via the take-off stage. Bracarense (2013) denotes that, there is a change of commercial activities whereby they are broadened to reach the local and global markets, no waste of resources. Surplus obtained from land is used to develop infrastructure, industries, and preparation of development. The objective of this stage is to ensure that levels of investments are above 5% of the state’s income. Agriculture-related activities play a vital role in the transition and development process.

Rostow (2008) points out that at this stage, agriculture assumes a reduced importance and manufacturing industry greater importance and development of social and political institutions starts. For economic growth, close to 10% of GNP is expected and plowed back for economic development. Rostow describes this stage as short with the onset of industrialization with workers and institutions concentrating on the new industry. The term take-off indicates that national investment proportion must rise from 5 – 10%. Rostow (2008),  notes that it also demonstrates that the period must be short to show economic revolution characteristics. It must also result in an economic growth that’s self-sustaining and self-generating.

5-stage development model

This stage takes place when the economy is mature and has the capacity of generating self-sustained development. Growth is self-sustaining at this stage due to activities that create wealth, enhancing further investment in value addition industries and growth. It takes place over extended periods, because, the living standards shoot up, technology use rises, and a state’s economy grows and expands. The country’s economy finds a place in the overseas marketplace and goods that were imported start having a local production with new import requirements being developed (Rostow, 1960). New industries surface such as mechanical engineering, electrical and chemical industries. It is characterized by an increase in economic and social and economic prosperity. There is a decline in population that engages in agricultural activities, and there is a radical change in the country’s international trade. According to Chase-Dunn (2000) nations like Chile are placed on this stage. Chile is capable of meeting the threshold and is capable of being a more developed country. Chile is rapidly growing and in most of the areas and soon will be at the stage of high mass consumption though it’s less developed in areas of education and health.

It is the final stage where sectors that lead in the society changes in the direction of consumers durable goods/ services. It is a stage that is concerned with a high level of outputs, a rise in employment and high consumption of consumer durables (Rostow, 1960). Income development per capita of a country escalates such that consumption basket rises beyond basic needs to luxuries. According to Rostow, the North and the West belong to this stage. It’s at this stage where the society will choose between focusing on security, welfare and equality matters or developing the upper-class luxuries. The growth of the middle class maintains the development.

After the eras of 1945 in the revolutionizing world, the coming up of Rostow’s theory to modernize the world together with the American development is essential to the studies of history development. Modernization has been defined from various viewpoints in line with its original meaning. Bracarense (2013) denotes that modernization is the progression of social change. Modernization can also be defined as a process that has numerous dimensions that include modification of human activities and views. Modernization emphasizes institutions capacity to manage change as a change response.

The theory had two primary aims. One of the aims was to clarify why the poorer countries have had unsuccessful development, centering on the economic and cultural conditions that might be barriers to progress. It also aims to offer a non-communist solution developing world’s poverty. It puts a proposal that introduction of western values, economic change and culture play a vital role in bringing modernization. Rostow had a certainty that when aid it's initially introduced in the method of economic investment, education, and training from the west, then it would be sufficient to blow into economic growth. Therefore, cultural barriers would be overcome.

Rostow’s development theory arose when development was an urgent issue after the 2nd World War in the perspective of universal changing political and economic realities. Modernizations theory as pointed out by Chase-Dunn (2000) is a theoretical product of three critical events after the World War II era. These include the rise of USA as a superpower to encounter the global growth of the communist movement. The second is the growth of global communist movement directed by Russia and taken over by China. The third is the decolonization of Asia and Africa.

Stages of development

Economies that are less developed give the impression of putting up a fight contrary to intellectual colonialism (Gilman, 2003). The model didn’t indicate the steady route from primitive progression to technological progression. The model is beneficial in that; it sheds light on some countries economic path development. It’s also a useful model that is extensively cited development theories. It is also the prime sample of an intersection of economics, politics, and geography.

Rostow’s model is perceived by several individuals according to Li (2009) as a roadmap to different state’s development in the form of industrialization, trade, and urbanization. Singapore is one of the top examples of a nation that developed similarly and is currently distinguished in the worldwide economy. Singapore is an Asian country in the southeast. It became independent in the year 1965 and seemed not to have exceptional growth prospects. It has a population of over five million. This country industrialized early as noted by Bracarense (2013), and developed manufacturing and high-tech industries that are profitable. Currently, Singapore is urbanized with close to all of its population being considered urban. In the global market, it is among the most sought-after trade associates. Singapore has an excellent per-capita income than most European countries.

It is important to note that in the recent era, Rostow’s stages of economic growth are widely commented and a highly circulated piece of economic literature. It is against Markx’s stages of capitalism, feudalism, bourgeoisie, communism, and socialism. Zhou (2009) denotes that every single economy follows a similar course of development with the same future and collective past.

It is pretty much clear that not all countries develop linearly. There some nations that skipped steps or took different routes. Rostow’s linear framework undertakes existence of the same growth conditions in various countries. It overlooks diversity that builds each country and is fundamentally attached to development phenomenon (Boianovsky & Hoover, 2014). There can’t be a linear sequence that can embrace itself to a country’s history. The take-off dates are uncertain and economic historians are doubtful about the suggested dates by Rostow. The dates differ from various publications and it might take a good number of years to check the exactness. The take-off was given in 1937 while publications that came later put it at 1952. Rostows ignored possibilities of failure. The take-off analysis disregards historical heritage effects, the degree of backwardness and different relevant factors on features of early modern economic growth in various countries (Yuan, 2009).

There is an overlap in the stages. Most countries indicated that development in agriculture was continuous even at the take-off stage. For countries like Newzealand and Denmark according to Sackley (2015), the take-off is credited to agricultural development. Rostow proclaimed that in take-off, social overhead capital in transport like railways has been off leading sectors. The theory doesn’t take exceptions into account like under communist regime, the falling output in USSR. A case of Zimbabwe, where the failing and corrupt government retreated development advances. Increased globalization demonstrates that the growth rate of a country doesn’t lie on international competition and its own hands. Protectionism may hinder movement of an economy to the final stages. Several African countries have received external finance but have been having a sluggish growth, hence stuck in stages one or two (Robinson, 2003).

Importance of Rostow's theory

The drive to maturity stage is misleading and perplexing. It contains the take-off features with a net investment of over 10% of state income, the growth of new techniques of production and leading institutions. According to Sackley (2015), no growth can purely be self-sustaining. Rostow didn’t provide analysis or evidence by putting one stage of growth as self-sustaining and linking others as lacking a similar property. The high mass consumption stage is not sequential. Its age is highly defined that countries like Canada and Australia entered this stage before attaining maturity as pointed out by (Inglehart & Welzel, 2005). With the final aim of high mass consumption, there is a postulation by Rostow that all countries have the yearning to grow in the same way. An example is in the scenario of Singapore which is a country that is economically prosperous but has the top income disparities in the globe. There is also a disregard of geographical principals that are essential i.e. site and situation in the model.

There are various assumptions that the theory takes into account on modernization. It assumes that in industrialization, all countries will follow the same lane. The theory assumes that the nations will concentrate on critical products, e.g., agriculture, oil and minerals then progressively invest in new undertakings like industries (Boianovsky & Hoover, 2014). There is also an assumption that at the 2nd stage, modern society will be created through education, new technology, and investments.  Rostow’s theory also puts a lot of assumptions on economic development. The theory assumes that for economic growth, targets should be the domestic markets. It is not a reality since development requires considerable capital investment. There is an assumption by Rostow that, all states have the same chance to develop without regard to natural resources, population size, and location.

Conclusion

The stages of Rostow’s economic development are significant concerning the fact that every society is supposed to develop through the five development stages. The steps happen at different extents from country to county. They are essential due to nurturing economic self-reliance for the growth of various sectors, therefore, resulting in modernization. It is high time that development practitioners understand that universal and generalizations principles cannot be put into use homogeneously. Different countries cannot be subjected to linear methodologies because they are built up of varying historical, social and economic conditions. Each nation comes out of different dynamics. Differing to Rostow’s proposal, they cannot have the same path to growth as other states. Modernization theory lack several significant aspects of developing economies. The theory does not take into consideration, or understand that development challenges in Latin America, Asia, and Africa in the current era vary in a significant way from North America and Europe century ago. It is vital to note that underdeveloped economies are characterized by the prevalence of primary production and agriculture. To achieve their goals, such developing countries are to pass through the economic growth phases with the least expectation.

Countries that are underdeveloped must be in a position to learn from economic histories of the developed nations. Underdeveloped states should follow development rules to take-off, and then, have an economic growth that is self-sustaining. Underdeveloped countries should encourage local and international saving to be able to generate adequate investment to hasten economic growth.

References

Andrews, N., & Bawa, S. (2014). A Post-development Hoax? (Re)-examining the Past, Present and Future of Development Studies. Third World Quarterly, 35(6), 922-938. doi:10.1080/01436597.2014.907704

Boianovsky, M., & Hoover, K. D. (2014). In the Kingdom of Solovia: The Rise of Growth Economics at MIT, 1956-70. History Of Political Economy, 46198-228. doi:10.1215/00182702-2716172

Boianovsky, M., & Hoover, K. D. (2014). In the Kingdom of Solovia: The Rise of Growth Economics at MIT, 1956-70. History Of Political Economy, 46198-228. doi:10.1215/00182702-2716172

Bracarense, N. (2013). Economic Development in Latin America and the Methodenstreit: Lessons from History of Thought. Journal Of Economic Issues (Taylor & Francis Ltd), 47(1), 113-134.

Chase-Dunn, C. (2000). The Effects of International Economic Dependence on Development and Inequality: A Cross-National Study (1975). From Modernization to Globalization: Perspectives on Development and Social Change J. T. Roberts and A. Hite. Oxford, Blackwell: 210-228.

Gilman, N. (2003) Mandarins of the Future: Modernization Theory in Cold War America, Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press.

Gilman, N. (2004) Mandarins of the Future: Modernization Theory in Cold War America.

Inglehart, R. and Welzel, C. (2005) Modernization, Cultural Change, andDemocracy: The Human Development Sequence, New York: CambridgeUniversity Press.

Li, Y. (2009) Revival of tradition or modernization? The perspective of subjectivityin the study of modernization theory and a critique of the functionalistapproach. Chinese Studies in History, 43 (1), pp. 61-71.

Roberts, J. T. and A. Hite, Eds. (2000). From modernization to globalization: perspectives on development and social change Malden, Mass : Blackwell.

Robinson, W. (2003) Transnational Conflicts: Central America, Social Change, and Globalization. London and New York: Verso.

Rostow, W. (1960) The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-communistManifesto, New York: Cambridge University Press.

Rostow, W. (2008). The five stages of growth. In M. A. Seligson & P.-S. J. T. (Eds.), Development and under-development: The political economy of global inequality (pp. 173-180). Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Sackley, N. (2015). The road from serfdom: economic storytelling and narratives of India in the rise of neoliberalism. History & Technology, 31(4), 397-419. doi:10.1080/07341512.2016.1142633

Yuan, P. (2009) Modernization Theory: From historical misunderstanding torealistic development- A review of a new thesis on modernization. ChineseStudies in History

Zhou, H. (2009). Population Growth And Industrialization. Economic Inquiry, 47(2), 249-265. Doi:10.1111/J.1465-7295.2008.00151.X

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