Alejandro Portes, “Modernity and development: a critique,” Studies in Comparative International Development 9 (1974), pp. 247-79

Summary: Portes is questioning the link between the psychosocial idea of modernity and national development. Modernity as it is envisioned, does not bring development.  It can be divided into two types: Modernity of Consumption and a Modernity of Production.  The developing world does not need more individuals who have modern values – they will merely consume more and flee the country for better opportunities, what is needed are _modernizers_, elites willing to put in the effort to building a collective modern project.


* DV = National Development

* IV = “Modernity” (Participation, empathy, ambition, individualism, secularism, egalitarianism, information, consumption orientation, urban preference, geographic mobility)

** How useful is this definition?

* “The psychosocial traits identified with modernity have positive value for economic growth

** Again, the problem of causal direction….

* Questions the links between modernity and development – three fallacies

** 1) There is a direct linear relationship b/w diffusion of modern orientations among the population and national growth: the greater the number of modern individuals, the greater the possibilities for societal development

** 2) Traditional culture is homogenous; it invariably presents obstacles to accelerate structural development

*** a) Traditional orientations vary significantly both in their general organization and in their receptivity to change

*** b) Certain forms of tradition can effectively promote structural development

*** c) Traditional value orientations persist during periods of accelerated development and lend legitimacy to drastic transformations of the social order.

** 3) Psychoscoail modernity is a major force promoting structural development

*** a) Mass modernity increases immediate consumption pressures, thus jeopardizing capital accumulation and investment in developing programs.

*** b) The secular orientation of modernity is not conducive to support for developmental ideologies.

* KEY: Modernity DOES NOT EQUAL Development.

* Latin America does not need more moderns… it would lead to more consumption and emigration amongst the able who lacked opportunities at home

* Modernity of consumption vs. a Modernity of Production – a self-centered modernity and a modernity of collective goals.

* Latin America does not require moderns, but _modernizers_


** This is where dependency theory enters.



* You can (and do) have one without the other.

* There is a trade-off between consumption and production

* Portes is not necessarily at odds with other authors of the modernization school, he is examining a different level – the individual – while the others are examining the societal level

* Portes begins with the notion of a trade off

* Traditional traits lead to the success of modernization, while modern traits cannot

* Portes puts great importance on the _external_, especially in terms of trade

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