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The Natural History of Development Theory

  • Leonard Binder (a1)


Modernization theory is essentially an academic, and pseudoscientific, transfer of the dominant, and ideologically significant, paradigm employed in research on the American political system. The still dominant paradigm, despite increasing criticism and revisionism is, of course, the pragmatic-pluralist conception of political process, associated with a form of liberalism which links democratic legitimacy with high levels of participation and with egalitarian distributive outcomes. While this paradigm has been criticized as either scientifically inadequate or normatively skewed (toward freedom, against order), its vigor as a legitimating explanation is largely undiminished. This pluralist legitimation of the American political system is based upon a relatively simple conception of political structure, which is understood as producing an appearance of a formal contradiction which is, in turn, resolved by means of the concept of time (or process). Just as Martin Heidegger used the idea of temporality to resolve the apparent contradiction between Being and existence, so the temporality of the pragmatic-pluralist political process resolves the apparent contradiction between the structured inequality of the American system at any given time and the legitimating ideal of equality. Temporality justifies inequality by subordinating it to the freedom to restructure the system through unfettered, self-motivated mobility. In other words, since freedom justifies order, according to this doctrine, an alternative scientific justification of either freedom or order has obvious political drawbacks.



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1 Southall, Aidan, “Stateless Society,” in International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, Sills, D., ed. (New York: Macmillan, 1968), XV, 157ff. See also African Political Systems, Evans-Pritchard, E. E. and Fortes, Meyer, eds. (London: Oxford University Press, 1940).

2 Easton, David, “Political Anthropology,”in Biennial Review of Anthropology 1959, Siegal, Bernard J., ed. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1959), 210–62.

3 Nettl, J. P., “The State as a Conceptual Variable,”World Politics, 20:4 (07 1968), 55992.

4 Huntington, Samuel P., “Political Development and Political Decay,”World Politics, 17:3 (04 1965), 386430;Nettl, J. P., Political Mobilization (New York: Basic Books, 1967).

5 Friedrich, C. J., Constitutional Government and Democracy: Theory and Practice in Europe and America, rev. ed., (Boston: Ginn, 1950).

6 E.g., Mills, C. Wright, Sociology and Pragmatism (New York: Paine-Whitman Publishers, 1964), 173 et passim; Habermas, Jürgen, Knowledge and Human Interests, Shapiro, Jeremy J., trans. (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971), 91112.

7 Bentley, Arthur F., The Process of Government: A Study of Social Pressures (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1908).

8 Parsons, Talcott, The Structure of Social Action (New York: Free Press, 1949). Lasswell, H. and Kaplan, A., Power and Society: A Framework for Political inquiry (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1950): “Part One: The subject matter of political science is constituted by the conduct of persons with various perspectives of action, and organized into groups of varying complexity”(facing p. xxiv). Easton, David, “An Approach to the Analysis of Political Systems,”World Politics, 9:3 (04 1957), 383400;Deutsch, Karl, The Nerves of Government Models of Political Communication and Control (London: Free Press of Glencoe, 1963);Truman, David B., The Governmental Process: Political Interests and Public Opinion (New York: Knopf, 1971).

9 Greenstone, David, “Group Theories,”in Handbook of Political Science. Greenstein, Fred I. and Polsby, Nelson W., eds. (Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1975). II, 243318;Kress, Paul F., Social Science and the Idea of Process (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1970).

10 Rothman, Stanley, “Systematic Political Theory: Observations on the Group Approach,”American Political Science Review, 54:1 (03 1960), 15–33, esp. 2325.

11 Mills, , Sociology and Pragmatism, 426ff; John Dewey, Freedom and Culture (New York: Capricorn Books, 1963). See also Apter, David, Choice and the Politics of Allocation: A Developmental Theory (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1971). Much of the “feedback” literature (e.g., Easton, Deutsch) is based on this idea.

12 Greenstone, , “Group Theories,” 260–62.

13 Ben Page, Who Gets What from Government (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983).

14 Olson, Mancur, The Rise and Decline of Nations: Economic Growth, Stagflation and Social Rigidities (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982);Hudson, Michael, Arab Politics: The Search for Legititnacv (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977), 280ff.

15 Olson, Mancur, The Logic of Collective Action (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1971), 121–25.

16 Social Science Research Council Annual Report, 1953–1954 (New York: Social Science Research Council, 1954), 40, 57.

17 Almond, Gabriel A. and Coleman, James C., The Politics of the Developing Areas (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1960), ch. 1.

18 Parsons, , Structure of Social Action, 751;Parsons, T. and Shill, E., Toward a General Theory of Action (Glencoe: Free Press, 1950).

19 Habermas, Jürgen, Legitimation Crisis, McCarthy, Thomas, trans. (Boston: Beacon Press, 1975), 7, 89, 117ff.

20 Kahin, G. McT., Pauker, G. J., Pye, L. W., “Comparative Politics of Non-Western Countries,” American Political Science Review, 49:4 (12 1955), 1022–41.

21 Lerner, Daniel, The Passing of Traditional Society: Modernizing the Middle East (New York: Free Press, 1958).Deutsch, K., Nationalism and Social Communication (New York: Wiley & Technology Press, 1953).

22 Lerner, , Passing of Traditional Society, ch. 2, 4375.

23 Deutsch, Karl, “Toward an Inventory of Basic Trends and Patterns in Comparative and International Relations,” American Political Science Review, 54:1 (03 1960), 3457;idem,Social Mobilization and Political Development,” American Political Science Review, 55:3 (09 1961), 493514. See Eisenstadt, S., “Modemization and Conditions of Sustained Growth,” World Politics, 16:4 (07 1964), 576–94, and Coleman, J. S., “The Development Syndrome,” in L. Binder et al., Crises and Sequences in Political Development (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978), 73.

24 Taylor, John, From Modernization to Modes of Production: A Critique of the Sociologies of Development and Underdevelopment (London: Macmillian, 1983).

25 Ibid., 36.

26 Ibid., 32.

27 Parsons, Structure of Social Action, 722–25, 764.Foucault, Michel, The Archaeology of Knowledge, Smith, A. M. Sheridan, trans. (New York: Harper Colophon. 1972).

28 Kuhn, T. S., The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962).

29 Taylor, , From Modernization, 29.

30 Ibid., 36.

32 Huntington, Samuel P., Review Essay: Political Order in Changing Societies (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1968), 21, 25, 98, 341;Huntington, Samuel P. and Nelson, Joan M., No Easy Choice: Political Participation in Developing Countries (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1976). See also Binder, L., “Review Essay: Political Participation and Political Development,” American Journal of Sociology, 83:3 (Autumn 1977), 751–60.

33 Shits, Edward, Political Development in the New States (London: Mouton, 1965);Bendix, Reinhard, Nation Building and Citizenship (New York: Wiley and Sons, 1964);Rudolph, Lloyd and Rudolph, Suzanne, The Modernitv of Tradition: Political Development in India (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967);Nisbet, Robert A., Social Change and History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1969).

34 Nettl, , Political Mobilization: Aristide Zolberg, Creating Political Order (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1966);'LaPalombara, Joseph G. and Weiner, Myron, Political Parties and Political Development (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1966);Janowitz, M., Military Institutions and Coercion in the Developing Nations (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977); and LaPalombara, Joseph G., Bureaucracy and Political Development (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1963).

35 Binder et al., Crises and Sequences; Kesselman, Mark, “Orderor Movement? The Literature of Political Development as Ideology,” World Politics, 26:1 (10 1973), 139–54.

36 Tilly, Charles, ed., The Formation of National States in Western Europe (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1975).

37 Almond, Gabriel A. and Powell, G. Bingham, Comparative Politics: A Developmental Approach (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1966);Almond, G. A. and Flanagan, Scott C. et al, Crises, Choice, and Change: Historical Studies of Political Development (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1973);Huntington, and Nelson, , No Easy Choice.

38 Greenstone, , “Group Theories.”

39 Proposal to the SSRC for a Research Planning Committee on States and Social Structures, submitted by Evans, P., Hirschman, A., Katzenstein, P., Katznelson, I., Krasner, S., Rueschemeyer, D., Skocpol, T., and Tilly, C., dated 04 1983; covering letter reporting approval of proposal signed by M. Gephar, dated August 1983.

40 Skocpol, Theda, “Bringing the State Back In,” Items (SSRC), 36:1/2 (06 1982), 18.

41 Ibid., 4.

42 Ibid., 7.

43 The literature on these subjects is immense, but the following may provide a basis for further inquiry: Avineri, Shlomo, ed., Marx on Colonialism and Modernization (New York: Doubleday, 1969);Wittfogel, Karl A., Oriental Despotism (New York: Vintage Books, 1981);Bailey, Anne M. and Llobera, Joseph R., The Asiatic Mode of Production (Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1981);Rodinson, Maxime, Islam and Capitalism (Paris: Edition du Seuil, 1966), 61.

44 Frank, Andre Gunder, Capitalism and Underdevelopment in Latin America(New York: Monthly Review Press, 1967). See also Amin, Samir, Accumulation on a World Scale: A Critique of the Theory of Underdevelopment, Pearce, Brian, trans. (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1974);Prebisch, Raul, “The Economic Development of Latin America and Its Principal Problems,”(New York: United Nations, 1950).

45 Amin, , Accumulation; Arghiri Emmanuel, Unequal Exchange: A Stud of the Imperialism of Trade (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1972).

46 Taylor, , From Modernization; Barry Hindess and Paul Hirst, Precapitalist Modes of Production (Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1975):idem,Mode of Production and Social Formation: An Auto-critique of Precapilalist Modes of Production (London: Macmillan, 1977).

47 Shamir, Shimon, “The Marxists in Egypt,” in The USSR and the Middle East, Confino, Michael and Shamir, Shimon, eds. (Jerusalem: Israel Universities Press, 1973), 293ff.

48 Husain, Mahmoud [pseud.], Class Conflict in Egypt: 1945–1970 (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1973). See also Amin, Samir, The Arab Nation, Pallis, Michael, trans. (London: Zed Press, 1978).

49 Miliband, Ralph, The State in Capitalist Society (New York: Basic Books, 1969);Mandel, Ernst, Late Capitalism, Bres, Joris de, trans. (London: New Left Books, 1975);Habermas, , Legitimation Crisis.

50 Kay, Geoffrey, Development and Underdevelopment (London: Macmillan, 1975).

51 For example, Amin, , Arab Nation, 111ff.;Hussein, Adel, Al-Igtisad al Misrivva, min alIstiglal ila al-Taba'iyya, 2 vols. (Cairo: Dar al-Mustagbal al-'Arabi, 1982);'Laroui, Abdullah, L'ideologie arabe contemporaine (Paris: F. Maspero, 1967), 139ff.

52 Warren, Bill, Imperialism: Pioneer of Capitalism (London: New Shelf Books, 1981).

53 Cardoso, F. H. and Faletto, Enzo, Dependency and Development in Latin America, Urquidi, Marjory Mattingly, trans. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979);O'Donnell, Guillermo, Modernization and Bureaucratic Authoritarianism (Berkeley: Institute of International Studies, University of California, 1973);Skocpol, Theda, States and Social Revolutions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979);Wallerstein, Immanuel, The Origins of the Modern World System (New York: Academic Press, 1974).

54 Packenham, Robert A., “Plus ça Change … The English Edition of Cardoso and Falletto's Dependencia r Desarollo en America Latina,” Latin American Research Review, 17:1 (1982), 131–51, esp. 143–45.

55 Taylor, , From Modernization, 164.

56 Ibid., 71ff.

57 Ibid., 266, 274, 275.

58 Ibid., 240.

59 Ibid., 276, n. 12, on the matter of forms of theoretical discourse.

60 Evans, Peter, Dependent Development: The Alliance of Multinational, State, and Local Capital in Brazil (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979).

61 Packenham, , “Plus Ça Change,” 142–46.Cardoso, and Faletto, , Dependency and Development, was originally published in 1973.

62 O'Donnell, , Modernization and Bureaucratic Authoritarianism; The New Authoritarianism in Latin America, Collier, David, ed. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979).

63 O'Donnell, Guillermo, “Tensions in the Bureaucratic-Authoritarian State and the Question of Democracy,” in New Authoritarianism, Collier, , ed., 285318; see 313ff.

64 Collier, David, “The Bureaucratic-Authoritarian Model: Synthesis and Priorities for Future Research,” in New Authoritarianism, Collier, , ed., 386–87.

65 Ibid., 395.,

66 Ibid., 369.,

67 Ibid., 387.

68 Review (a quarterly journal of the Fernand Braudel Center for the Study of Economics, Historical Systems, and Civilizations, published by Research Foundation of the State University of New York) publishes articles which conform to a perspective described by the editors as one which recognizes the primacy of analyses of economics over long historical time and large space, the holism of the social-historical process, and the transitory (heuristic) nature of theoriesReview, 3:2 (Fall 1979). The first issue was printed in the summer of 1977.

69 Wallerstein, Immanuel, The Modern World System I (New York: Academic Press. 1974), 348.

70 Goldstone, J. A., “The Comparative and Historical Study of Revolutions,” Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 8, Turner, Ralph H. and Short, James F., Jr., eds. (Palo Alto, Calif.: Annual Review Press, 1982).

71 Ibid., 194; Moore, Barrington, Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy (Boston: Beacon Press, 1966).

72 Goldstone, , “Comparative and Historical Study,” 193–94.

73 Brinton, Crane, The Anatomy of Revolution (New York: Vintage Books, 1965);Goldstone, , “Comparative and Historical Study,” 189–92.

74 Moore, , Social Origins, 468ff.

75 Skocpol, Theda, “A Critical Review of Barrington Moore's Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy,” Politics and Society, 4:1 (Fall 1973), 134; see 28–30.

76 Skocpol, , States and Social Revolution, 116, 154.

77 Ibid., 285–86.

78 Rosenberg, Hans, Bureaucracy, , Aristocracy, and Autocracy: The Prussian Experience, 1660–1815 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1958).

79 Abrahamian, Ervand, Iran between Two Revolutions (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982), 441;Skocpol, Theda, “Rentier State and Shia Islam in the Iranian Revolution,” Theory and Society, 11 (1982), 265–83.

80 Binder et al., Crises and Sequences; Habermas, , Legitimation Crisis; O'Donnell, Modernization and Bureaucratic Authoritarianism; Collier, New Authoritarianism.

The Natural History of Development Theory

  • Leonard Binder (a1)


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