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  Modernization (from Latin modo, ‘just now’) describes the impact of factory production or industrialization on an economic system with accompanying social and cultural consequences. At the turn of the century, the sociologist Max Weber held that only certain societies contained the seeds of modernization, in particular that of the development of commerce, urban centres and the Protestant ethic in the West that extolled the value of work and the modern entrepreneur.

However, Weber\'s theories are entrenched in a specifically Western history. Modernization has occurred in various societies, without necessarily showing the pattern or consequent effects that characterized Euro-American societies. Hindu religious ideas and traditions of relegating work responsibilities within the family have not halted the process of modernization in India. Some of them have used the opportunity to undertake family-run businesses which may act to reinforce bonds between an extended network of kin, rather than transforming into nuclear family units as was the predominant process in the West during the period of industrialization.

By the 20th century, the process of modernization has taken effect in numerous parts of the world. While it may benefit sectors of societies, others may be left worse off. It may also be viewed as a problematic phenomenon in view of the resulting threats to the environment and to established patterns of social and cultural life. RK

See also development; Marxist anthropology; syncretism; tradition; urban anthropology; Westernization.Further reading Milton Singer, When a Great Tradition Modernizes; , Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.



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