Modernization Theory blames internal cultural factors for women’s subordination in the developing world. Discuss and elaborate the given statement in respect of Modernization Perspectives.

Modernization Theory blames internal cultural factors for women’s subordination in the developing world. Discuss and elaborate the given statement in respect of Modernization Perspectives.

CSS Solved Gender Studies Past Papers | Modernization Theory blames internal cultural factors for women’s subordination in the developing world. Discuss and elaborate the given statement in respect of Modernization Perspectives.

The following question of Gender Studies is solved by Ateeqa Atia Ul Musawar, the highest scorer in CSS Gender Studies. Moreover, the question is attempted on the same pattern taught by Sir to his students, scoring the highest marks in compulsory subjects for years. This solved past paper question is uploaded to help aspirants understand how to crack a topic or question, how to write relevantly, what coherence is, and how to include and connect ideas, opinions, and suggestions to score the maximum.

Question Breakdown

This particular article focuses on the fundamental idea of modernization and explains why modernization theory attributes women’s subjugation to cultural reasons. Additionally, a reader of this text would learn how a variety of cultural elements influence the promotion of women’s subordination and the spread of equality in society. In addition, the reader would be able to define the true meaning of modernization and how it promoted gender equality globally. On the other side of the coin, feminists’ critique would also disclose the fact that how the modernization perspective would also contribute towards the oppression of women and modernization theory is not the  only panacea of global inequality


1-Introdutory Remarks

2- Genesis of the Modernization Theoretical Perspective

3- Argumentative Stance of Modernization Theory

  • Divergence from traditional cultural practices is the key to equality
  • Embraces the Western-style approach
  • Economic development is the core concern
  • Focus on individual-level change
  • Debate on Structural and Systemic Issues

4- Comparative presentation of Traditional and Modernization perspectives

5- Theoretical perspectives of how countries should develop

  • Rostow’s five-stage model of development

6- Evaluations of Modernization Theory in the Context of Gender

7- Critique in Point

8- Conclusion

Answer to the question

Introductory Remarks

The subordination of women in developing countries is attributed by modernization theory to internal cultural factors.  Some traditional cultures, particularly the religious beliefs that form the foundation of the values, norms, institutions, and rituals of the developing world, are said to assign status based on gender. In order to explain the economic and social changes happening in developing nations, modernization theory appeared. One of the main tenets of modernization theory is that as societies advance economically and socially, they will also become more “modern,” and this will result in greater gender equality. It is important to note that modernization theory is a perspective that views economic development as the key to improving the status of women in society. In actuality, this implies that men are given patriarchal power and dominance over a variety of female activities, and as a result, women in developing nations have limited prestige. There is a correlation between modernization, economic growth, and more gender equality, according to modernization theorists, who also point out that gender equality is typically higher in more industrialized nations. Modernization theory, while encapsulating the ideas of the world system theory and the Marxist notion of capitalism, truly revealed the truth of gender inequality; even today, the World Bank seems to be a significant supporter of this idea. However, Modernization theory has been criticized for failing to address the structural and systemic causes of gender inequality, instead blaming cultural factors for the subjection of women. On the other side of the coin, it is not accurate to say that modernization theory solely blames cultural factors for the subordination of women. In fact, modernization theory often focuses on economic and political factors, such as education and access to job opportunities, as key drivers of gender equality. However, some modernization theorists do argue that traditional cultural practices and values may hinder the progress of women’s rights and empowerment. Ultimately, the issue of women’s subordination is a complex and multifaceted one, and cannot be attributed solely to cultural or economic factors. It is important to take a holistic approach that considers the intersections of various forms of oppression, including gender, race, class, and more.

Genesis of the Modernization Theoretical Perspective

In reaction to the social and economic changes happening in developing nations, modernization theory, a type of development theory, first appeared in the 1950s and 1960s. It is sometimes linked to the theories put out by American sociologist Talcott Parsons, who maintained that as economies grow, civilizations change from their traditional to their modern forms. Modernization theory has its roots in the post-World War II era when the United States rose to prominence as a global economic and political force. To counter communism’s impact, the U.S. government and international institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund started fostering economic growth in underdeveloped nations.

Argumentative Stance of Modernization Theory

The proponents of the modernization theory presented a number of arguments to support the ideas of equality and progression in society.

  • ✓ Divergence from traditional cultural practices is the key to equality

According to modernization theory, underdeveloped nations can advance to higher levels of development through a methodical process. Modernization theory argues that there is a need for cultural, political, and economic reforms in non-industrialized nations. The institutional reforms aimed at non-industrialized nations’ institutional systems are the main focus of modernization theory (social and cultural reforms). It emphasized the significance of political development, nationwide climatic improvement, and economic position. Modernization theory is of the view that to make undeveloped countries, the developing ones, and then ultimately the developed ones, there is a strict need for the practice of divergence from the traditional cultural practices to ensure equality in society. According to modernization theorists, a multitude of social, political, and economic obstacles prohibit traditional societies from progressing. Cultural obstacles are viewed as inherent to the nation; in essence, it is their fault that they are behind.

  • ✓ Embraces the Western-style approach

Modernization theory is the stance that underdeveloped or developing countries must follow the footsteps of Western-style institutions. The principle of cultural, social, and political modernity must be strictly practised in society to ensure socio, economic and political equality. Modernization theory says that elements like urbanization, industry, and increased education define modern societies. These elements are thought to contribute to increasing individuality, democracy, and gender equality as well as a loss in traditional values and practices. On the other side, Western culture is thought to possess a superior culture that has enabled it to advance

  • ✓ Economic development is the core concern

Economic progression is the core concern of modernization theory. It proposed that economic development (in the shape of capitalism) and the adoption of Western ideas and culture may play a crucial role in bringing about modernization in order to offer a non-communist solution to poverty in developing countries.

  • ✓ Focus on individual-level change

 Modernization theory focuses on individual-level change, rather than addressing the structural and systemic issues that contribute to gender inequality. This means that it tends to overlook the role of institutions, laws, and policies in perpetuating gender inequality.

  • ✓ Debate on Structural and Systemic issues

Structural and systemic issues such as unequal distribution of resources, discriminatory laws and policies, and unequal access to education and healthcare contribute to gender inequality. These issues are often deeply ingrained in society and cannot be addressed solely by changing individual beliefs and values.

Comparative presentation of traditional and modernization perspectives

Theoretical perspectives of How countries should develop

Rostow believed that the initial injection of aid from the West in the form of training, education, economic investment, etc., would be enough to jolt society into economic growth overcoming these cultural barriers. Rostow suggested that development should be seen as an evolutionary process in which countries progress up five stages of a development ladder

  • ✓ Rostow’s five-stage model of development
  1. Stage 1 -Traditional Stage
    Traditional societies have mostly subsistence-based economies. These societies have little money to invest and little access to contemporary business and technology. Cultural hurdles stand in the way of development, according to Rostow.
  2. Stage 2The preconditions for take-off
    The stage in which Western aid packages bring Western values, practices, and expertise into society. This can take the form of
    1. Science and technology – to improve agriculture
    2. Infrastructure – improving roads and cities communications
    3. Industry – western companies establishing factories
      These provide the conditions for investment, attracting more companies into the country.
  3. Stage 3 – Take off stage
    As innovative, contemporary practices become the standard, society experiences economic growth. Profits are reinvested in infrastructure and other projects, and a new entrepreneurial class that is urbanizing and willing to make bigger investments and take risks arises. The nation now develops an economy beyond one of sustenance and begins exporting items to other nations. This creates more wealth, which then trickles down to the populace as a whole, enabling them to purchase new goods made by local and international new industries.
  4. Stage 4- The drive to maturity.
    More economic growth and investment in education, media, and birth control. The population starts to realize new opportunities opening up and strives to make the most of their lives.
  • The age of high mass consumption
    This is where economic growth and production are at Western levels.

Evaluations of Modernization Theory in the Context of Gender

Modernization theorists note that gender equality is generally greater in more developed countries and believe that there is a relationship between modernization, economic growth, and greater gender equality. The World Bank, in its report Globalization, Economic Growth, and Gender Equality appears to be a strong proponent of this view today.

  • ✓ Divergence from traditional cultural practices is the key to equality

According to modernization theory, social equality is constrained by cultural norms. Extremely traditional and ultra-orthodox behaviour is encouraged in society by rigid cultural norms and stereotypical attitudes, which undermine the appearance of equality. Due to this strong commitment to cultural norms, women confront a variety of divided obstacles in their life. Women have historically been seen as second-class citizens. The traditional idea that confines women to the four walls of the home limits the spirit of equality. Women cannot fully exercise their economic and political rights in the twenty-first century. Therefore, modernization theory emphasizes the need to depart from established cultural norms in order to grant women equality.

  • ✓ Embraces the Western-style approach

Adopting a Western-style strategy is a big debating subject as well. Given that cultural norms restrict women’s ability to develop and evolve, a Western-style civilization would offer equal possibilities to both sexes. Equal chances in the political and socioeconomic spheres should be given to women. They must be granted the opportunity to serve as future legislators, educators, and supreme mothers. Only if the Western-style approach was adopted would all these things occur. Marx believed that the disparities between the haves and the have-nots needed to be eliminated. Differences between different genders should be eliminated in this way.

  • ✓ Economic development is the core concern of Modernization Theory

The path to modernization is through economic development. Both genders have equal economic chances in the modern world. Nobody is thought to be better than the other. The patriarchal culture is abandoned in favor of equality. This is one way that women equally participate in society’s nation-building.  The have-nots would therefore contribute to society if given equal possibilities, just as industrialized nations improve by giving them better options.

  • ✓ Focus on individual-level change

The emphasis of modernization theory is on personal transformation. It emphasizes the idea that women are dependent on the opposite gender for their socioeconomic requirements, just as the periphery countries are dependent on the developed ones, while related to the dependency theory and world system theory. Women are being used by their counterparts, much as the rich countries have exploited the peripheral nations. This example can be used to discuss how males manipulate the patriarchal system to make women dependent on them. They are purposely excluded from the gendered workforce, and males and patriarchal world institutions take advantage of their exploitation of their cheap labor.  Therefore, modernization emphasizes adjustments that give both genders equal possibilities.

  • ✓ Emphasizes the social structure of global inequality

This theory places a strong emphasis on the social basis of global inequality. Therefore, the disparity that exists on a global scale will unavoidably be repeated at a societal level, with men or the patriarchal system at the core and women on the periphery. As a result, the modernization theory places a strong emphasis on the aspect of disparity that exists in society and draws people to the idea of modern ideals. Equal possibilities for health, education, and politics would be developed under the guise of modernity to advance a climate and culture of equality and growth.

 Critique in Point

Modernization theory’s detractors claim that blaming cultural factors for gender disparity oversimplifies the problem and fails to take into account the nuanced dynamics of gender interactions. They argue that economic and political reasons are important contributors to gender disparity as well, and that cultural elements are not the only ones to blame. In both industrialized and developing nations, the crisis has had an impact on the transformation of gender, race/ethnicity, and class. Still, the world systems theory should contain a gendered, race-, class-, and ethnic examination of the world system through its various stages. Industrialization, economic growth, and a Western-style approach are the main topics of modernization theory. However, industrialization, export-led growth, and the spread of individualism and meritocracy are not paths to progress; in fact, they were paving the way for increased exploitation of developing nations and marginalized groups (among them Blacks, Dalits, and women). In the modernizing era, women have access to political freedom but face formidable obstacles, as well as employment chances with enormous wage discrepancies, health opportunities with stringent requirements, and education rights. Therefore, modernizing cultural traits is not the panacea to global inequality.


The modernization of theory from the perspective of gender has been a significant development in recent times, aimed at addressing the historical neglect of gender issues in theoretical frameworks. This modernization has been essential in recognizing and acknowledging the impact of gender on various aspects of society, including social, economic, and political structures. One of the major outcomes of modernizing theory from the perspective of gender has been the emergence of feminist theory, which focuses on analyzing gender-based inequalities and advocating for gender equality. Feminist theory has brought to light many issues that were previously overlooked, such as the gendered nature of power dynamics, the impact of patriarchy on social norms and structures, and the intersectionality of gender with other forms of social identity. The modernization of theory from the perspective of gender has also led to the development of critical approaches that analyze the gendered nature of knowledge production, such as the ways in which research questions are framed, data is collected and analyzed, and findings are presented. This critical perspective has contributed to a more nuanced understanding of gender issues and their intersection with other forms of social identity. In conclusion, the modernization of theory from the perspective of gender has been an important step toward recognizing and addressing gender-based inequalities in society. By acknowledging the impact of gender on various aspects of society and incorporating gender analysis into theoretical frameworks, we can work towards creating a more equitable and just society for all.

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