Modernization in Less Developed Countries
All modern countries are divided into developed and developing. While developed countries are characterized by democracy, free market economy and prevalent technology, developing countries have low standards of living, undeveloped industry, and lack of modern technology. Developing countries tend to follow Western Ideals in order to become more developed. To explain how the industrial societies of North America and Western Europe developed, the modernization theory is used. It appeared in the 1950s, arguing that the process of development has predictable stages through which the society becomes complex and advanced. For that, a number of political and societal changes have to be imported with the inevitable technology implementation. Developing societies are to become “modern” after improving the levels of education, healthcare, and the development of mass media.
Despite all the benefits modernization promises, it has many opponents. The main argument of those who criticize modernization theory is that development outcomes cannot be predetermined (Bichler, 2009). Development cannot be considered a linear, evolutionary process with a determined final goal because countries differ. Each country has a unique set of social, political, technical and economic conditions, and different conditions lead to different results. Taking Saudi Arabia, one of the richest countries in the world, it becomes obvious that democracy and equal rights are not necessarily connected to the development. In that context, it is fair to say that improvement has different meaning in different cultures.
When speaking about traditional society of Myanmar, one would say it is not ready for modernization yet. Much of the country’s population is rural and occupied with agricultural activities. Local people are not familiar with modern culture and follow their ancient cultural traditions. Being one of the developing countries, Myanmar has not developed the notion of democracy yet. Thus, there still exists the government’s censorship board, which may vet songs, articles and movies. Democracy is on the primitive stage of development here, but the government does nothing to change it. People are used to the constant violation of human rights, and they do not expect more.
Meanwhile, Western ideals get their way in culture, art, entertainment and lifestyle of Myanmar people. New generation demands democracy. Young girls want to wear whatever they want and do whatever they want. It is quite difficult for them to put up with the values of their society and its view of women. Predictably enough, religion has a huge public influence here. According to the statistics published by the Burmese government, Buddhism is practiced by 89% of the population (Burma International Religious Freedom Report, 2007). Hence, women are considered inferior to men – both physically and mentally. Woman’s place is the home, and her main task is that of motherhood and domestic duties.
These views largely contradict Western ideals of equality between sexes and sexual freedom. Thus, new generation has to live with double standards from which it suffers. This is one argument to support that modernization of a less developed country using Western Ideals fails. Development should be seen in the national and international context of each particular country, and so the best way for development is the acceptance of appropriate national strategy.