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Deconstructing Modernization

by Wen Tiejun | 16 December 2010 | No Comment | Last modified: 16 Dec 11:12 pm

I noticed the English translation of Wen Tiejun’s classic essay “Deconstructing Modernization” had been posted over at the World Forum for Alternatives, and I figure, if they can post it, so can we, so here it is (link to pdf). The original Chinese (解构现代化) was originally published in 《管理世界》2005年第一期, and it’s also been posted online, so I’ve uploaded it as well, here. It was translated into English by Huiping Iler and published in Chinese Sociology and Anthropology, vol. 39, no. 4, Summer 2007, pp. 10-25, as part of the special issue on New Rural Reconstruction, edited by Alexander Day and Matthew A. Hale. Wen Tiejun (温铁军) is dean of the School of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development at Renmin University of China, and director of the Center for Rural Reconstruction there.

Abstract: This article is a reflection on and deconstruction of modernization based on extensive research. While analyzing the concept of modernization, the article also explores the path, approach, and objective of modernization in China. Through the examination of the historical development of Western European countries, the author points out that modernization in the West was in fact a process of capital formation and expansion by way of colonization. Under the current international political and economic circumstances, this path of development cannot be replicated. By examining the reality of developing countries, the author discovers that the “modernization ” path of development represented by a high national income and a fast rate of urbanization cannot solve the widespread problem of “the three big disparities” (between incomes, urban and rural areas, and regions). The author points out that the vulgar (cufangshi) economic growth caused by the capitalization of resources is not the only objective we strive to achieve. Modernization in China should instead ground itself in the basic situation of a country with a large population and a severe shortage of resources, and it should adopt a scientific approach in striving to realize “the five overall considerations” (tongchou).

Also see other English writings by Wen Tiejun on CSG.

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