Ten theses on modernization

  • Piotr Sztompka Institute of Sociology of the Jagiellonian University
Keywords: social becoming, modernization, social change


In the article, the author applies to the analysis of modernization his general theory of social becoming as put forward in a monograph published by Polity Press, Cambridge (Sztompka 1991), and a textbook of sociology of social change published by Blackwell, Oxford (Sztompka 1993). Th is very general model of social becoming has a number of implications. The author proposes to put them together in a synthetic picture by means of ten theses. Modernization in this view is the result of choices and decisions undertaken by human actors – individual, collective, and authoritative. It produces various routes of modernization and its multiple outcomes. Modernity is a multidimensional condition – economic, political, cultural, religious, mental – where various dimensions may appear in multiple configurations and
permutations. Modernization is not a value or a goal per se but the means, an instrument for making people happier, letting them live full and decent lives. More precisely, it means the access of more and more members of society to the growing opportunities for the realization of their human potential. Modernization must be linked with the tradition of a given society, its unique social memory, cultural heritage, religious or ideological creeds. They provide intellectual and moral resources for modernizing action. Modernization incorporates antagonisms, conflicts and struggles resulting in contingent, variable routes and outcomes. The next phase of modernization may well be witness to conflicts and fights over its own deeper, humanistic meaning.