Main Theory

Political Modernization Theory

2015-07-01  

Political Modernization Theory

 

The political modernization is modernization in the political field. It is a manifestation of modernization phenomena. The political modernization theory is a theory on the political modernization phenomena. It is a field-based theory of the modernization theories. It roughly encompasses three sets of theories: classic political modernization theory, general political modernization theory, and political remarks of different modernization theories.

1. Classic Political Modernization Theory

The classic political modernization theory, as an important branch of the classic modernization theory, came into being around the 1950s and 1960s. It is marked by the publication of several books by American political scientists, including The Political System (Easton 1953), The Politics of Developing Areas (Almond, Coleman 1960), Political modernization in Japan and Turkey (Ward,Rustow 1964), The Politics of Modernization (Apter 1965), Social Origins of Democracy and Dictatorship (Moore 1966), and Political Order in Changing Society (Huntington 1968). The political modernization study has produced numerous documents, but so far, the classic political modernization theory does not have a universally acknowledged, systematic exposition of its general theory.

Generally speaking, there are two origins of the classic political modernization theory: the study and interpretation of political modernization by political scientists, and the study and interpretation of political modernization by modernization researchers in non-political fields (such as history and sociology). If we combine their research topics and ideas, we can extract the structure of classic political modernization theory, and summarize its general theory, including its definition, process, outcomes, dynamics, and models.

 

General theory of classic political modernization

Aspect

Basic content

Definition

The classic political modernization is the political changes during the classic modernization process; it is the transition from political politics to modern politics and from autocratic politics to democratic politics

Process

The classic political modernization is a historical process, which includes the rationalization and secularization of political authorities, differentiation and specialization of political structure, democratization and institutionalization of political participation, high efficiency and justification of government management, etc.

Outcomes

The outcomes of classic political modernization are mainly the formation and diffusion of classic political modernity. The characteristics of modern politics are summarized into classic political modernity, including such characteristics as democratic, differentiated, high-efficiency, rule of law, bureaucratic, professional, secular, rational, popular, etc.

Dynamics

The classic political modernization is influenced by many factors such as economic, social, cultural, technological factors and international relations.

Models

The development paths and models of classic political modernization feature diversity and path dependence, and are influenced by historical, geographical, and objective conditions, as manifested in diversity of political modernization paths, political systems, and democracy patterns.

Source: He Chuanqi, Modernization Science, 2010.

 

2. General Political Modernization Theory

The general political modernization theory is a theoretical interpretation of the political modernization phenomena from the 18th to the 21st century. It is the application of the second modernization theory in the political field and was first put forward by Chinese scholar He Chuanqi. The general political modernization theory includes the general theory, branch theories, and related theories. Our current knowledge of the second political modernization and integrated political modernization is limited. The general political modernization theory still has great development space.

First, the definition of political modernization.

The political modernization is a manifestation of modernization in the political field.

Connotations of political modernization are as follows: political modernization refers to a type of frontier change and international competition in the political field since the industrial revolution in the 18th century, covering the formation, development, transformation, and international interaction of modern politics, the innovation, selection, propagation, and withdrawal of political elements, as well as the international political competition and national stratification in which countries endeavor to catch up with, reach, and keep up with the world advanced level.

Denotations of political modernization are as follows: political modernization includes the modernization of political behaviors, structures, systems and ideas, the modernization of political life, systems, and culture, the modernization of political participation, national governance, international politics, and political environment, the modernization of stage-specific, level-specific, and sector-specific politics, the interaction between modernization in politics and that in other fields, and the change of temporal and spatial distribution of political modernization.

Generally speaking, political modernization refers to the global frontiers of political changes as well as the action and process of reaching and keeping up with the global frontiers. It includes the two transitions from traditional politics to modern politics and from modern politics to post-modern politics, the justification and democratization of political power, the legalization and equalization of political participation, institutionalization and specialization of political systems, rationalization and high-efficiency development of political behaviors, etc.

Political modernization is the intersection of political changes and modernization. Obviously, not all political changes belong to political modernization. Generally speaking, political modernization refers to the political changes that are conducive to the rationalization and equalization of political participation, democratization and high efficiency of national governance, and freedom, emancipation, and all-round development of mankind.

Generally, political modernization comes from three sources, namely, inheritance, transition, and innovation. It poses different requirements in different periods of time and in different sub-fields. In a nutshell, the basic requirements of the first political modernization include democratization of politics, rationalization of power, bureaucratization of organization, and promotion of economic and social development; the basic requirements of the second political modernization include diversification of politics, knowledge-based power, network-based organization, and promotion of all-round development of mankind.

 

 

 

Basic requirements of political modernization

Item

Requirements of the first political modernization

Requirements of the second political modernization

Time

About 1760 to 1970

About 1970 to 2100

Political participation

Equalization, legalization, rationalization

Pluralization, individualization, internationalization

National governance

Democratization, specialization, high efficiency

Servitization, network-based, transparent

International politics

Institutionalization, rationalization, specialization

Democratization, pluralization, ecologicalization

Political environment

Economic and social development

All-round development of mankind

Source: He Chuanqi, Modernization Science, 2010.

 

Generally speaking, political development includes political progress and positive political adaptation, and political modernization is the intersection of political development, political transformation, international political interaction, and the change of international status.

Second, the process of political modernization.

Political modernization is a long and complicated historical process. The track of political modernization from the 18th to the 21st century can be divided into two parts, and the two parts of political modernization have different connotations.

 

Two general political modernizations

Item

The first political modernization

The second political modernization

Time

About 1760 to 1970

About 1970 to 2100

Political democracy

Parliamentary democracy, mass democracy, social democracy, centralized

Decentralized, plural, dialogue-based democracy, inclusive democracy, direct democracy, network-based democracy, consultative democracy

Political conflicts

Class- and power-based conflicts, strikes, and hostility between employers and employees

Reduction of conflicts that are based on class and wealth distribution, increase of conflicts that are based on ecological and technological risks

Political issues

Economy, class, wealth, rights, wars, political parties

Increase of issues on life, ecology, risks, safety, sexual concepts, and civil rights

Participation ways

Political party, vote, social movement, political organizations

Voters do not care about general voting, but care about issues that interest them

Political power

Secular authority, state authority, constitutional power, institutional power

Decline of government authority, decentralization of power, individualization, emancipation of man

Nature of politics

State sovereignty, power politics, class politics

Internationalization trend of political issues, service politics, civic politics

Form of politics

Collective, confrontational, centralized, class-related, violent

Individualized, non-confrontational, de-centralized, non-class-related, peaceful

Source: He Chuanqi, Modernization Science, 2010.

 

The first political modernization is the transition process from traditional politics to the modern politics and from autocratic politics to democratic politics, as well as the accompanying profound changes. It includes the transition from feudal politics to public politics, from religious politics to secular politics, from family politics to civil politics, from aristocratic politics to class politics, from autocratic politics to legal politics, from agricultural politics to industrial politics, etc. Its characteristics include political differentiation, democratization, justification, bureaucratization, legalization, secularization, institutionalization, systematization, professionalization, popularization, rationalization, equalization, liberalization, specialization, class stratification, controlled by political party, civic, and organized.

The second political modernization is the transition process from modern politics to post-modern politics and from power politics to service politics as well as the accompanying profound changes. It includes the transition from state politics to international politics, from centralized politics to decentralized politics, from class politics to civic politics, from elite politics to commoner politics, from material politics to ecological politics, from physical politics to cyber politics, from simple democracy to consultative democracy, from information control to information disclosure, from industrial politics to knowledge politics, etc. Its current characteristics include knowledgization, pluralism, informatization, networking, individualization, greenization, ecologicalization, decentralization, dispersion, issue-orientation, internationalization, servitization, marketization, openness, transparency, and automation; there will be new development in the future.

If we say that the first political modernization is the primary political modernization and the transition from traditional politics to primary modern politics, then the second political modernization is advanced political modernization and the transition from primary modern politics to advanced modern politics; the coordinated development of the two political modernizations is integrated political modernization. In the 22nd century, there are bound to be new changes in political modernization.

Political modernization has different features in different sub-fields and political sectors.

The political modernization process has roughly 12 features: non-linear, reversible, diversified, predictable, path-dependence, multi-path, confrontational, systematic, stage-specific, global, complicated, and long-term.

The political modernization is a manifestation of modernization and follows the 10 basic principles of modernization.

Third, the outcomes of political modernization.

Since the 1950s, the outcomes and objectives of political modernization have been interrelated and the interrelationship is gradually reinforced.

The outcomes of political modernization generally include the formation of political modernity, uniqueness, diversity, and side effects, as well as the profound changes in political participation, national governance, international politics, and political environment.

The outcome of the first political modernization is the formation of the first political modernity, uniqueness, and diversity, manifesting such features as democratic, justified, bureaucratic, rule of law, centralized, secular, specialized, and high efficiency, with such side effects as political corruption.

The outcome of the second political modernization is the formation of the second modernity, uniqueness, and diversity, currently manifesting such features as pluralistic, personalized, green, network-based, decentralized, knowledge-intensive, information-intensive, international, service-based, and transparent, with such side effects as decline of political reputation.

The outcomes of political modernization involve profound changes in six aspects. They are as follows: the completion of the two political transformations, the legalization and equalization of political participation, the justification and institutionalization of political systems and political structures, the democratization and rationalization of political systems and political ideas, the scientific and high-efficiency implementation of government administration and public policies, the institutionalization and democratization of international politics and international relations, etc. These changes occur in the fields of political participation, national governance, and international politics.

From the theoretical perspective, political modernization has three objectives. The first is to complete the first political modernization; the second is to complete the second political modernization; and the third is to improve national capability of international political interaction.

In terms of policy-making, there are three major objectives: to achieve legalization and equalization of political participation; to achieve democratization and high efficiency of national governance; and to realize the protection of civil rights and all-round development of mankind. These objectives can be further elaborated as they have rich connotations.

Fourth, the dynamics of political modernization.

The dynamics of political modernization can be analyzed in two aspects: dynamic factors and dynamic mechanism.

The dynamic factors of political modernization include innovation, elections, adaptation, conflicts, division of powers, civic participation, and international interaction. Generally speaking, innovation is the fundamental source of political modernization, elections are the motivation for political changes, adaptation is the political adjustment to the change of external environment, conflicts are the precipitating factor of political changes (including political crises and revolutions), the division of powers is the guiding factor of political development, and civic participation is the impact factor of political changes.

The dynamic models include innovation drive, two-wheel drive, joint effect, four-step hyper cycle, composite interaction of three types of politics, innovation diffusion, innovation spillovers, and competition drive.

The dynamics vary across different countries and stages, and also vary between developed and developing countries.

Fifth, the models of political modernization.

In the 21st century, there are three basic paths and a variety of sub-paths for political modernization. The three basic paths are the second political modernization path, the first political modernization path, and the integrated political modernization path. Each basic path has a number of sub-paths. The political field includes 4 sub-fields (political participation, national governance, international politics, and political environment); each sub-field or sector has its own modernization path; the three basic paths are their "envelope lines".

According to the principle of optional paths, political modernization does not have a standard path or an optimal path, only the appropriate choice. The selection of the appropriate path is subject to the influence of political modernization principles, objective factors such as political traditions, basic conditions, and the external environment of a country, as well as international political interactions. Moreover, the selectivity of paths is relative and conditional; path selection features path dependence to some extent, and is closely related to the achievements of political modernization; the risks and opportunity costs of path selection are also very high. The risks can be effectively reduced with strengthened research on the political modernization theory and policies.

There are a variety of political modernization models. Different countries can create different models of success or failure at different stages of political modernization. The models of the second political modernization path include: network-based democracy + pluralism, consultative democracy + ecologicalization. The models of the first political modernization path include: democratization first and industrialization later, industrialization first and democratization later, and the coordinated development of democratization and industrialization. The models of the integrated political modernization path include: democratization + industrialization + pluralism, consultative democracy + industrialization + ecologicalization. Of course, these so-called models are not absolute; they differ in their focuses.

Sixth, integrated political modernization.

The integrated political modernization is a basic path of the general political modernization in the 21st century. It includes the joint effect of two political transformations (from traditional politics to modern politics and from modern politics to post-modern politics) as well as the continuous transition toward knowledge politics. It requires the simultaneous progress of the two political modernizations, and the hand-in-hand advance of democratization, rationalization, institutionalization, specialization, knowledgization, networking, pluralism, and greenization. It is the organic synthesis of the two political modernizations, and is a new political modernization path. The political modernization processes of different developing countries have different starting points and end points; therefore, the integrated political modernization is not one path but a group of paths.

 

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