Change and Development in the Twentieth Century

Change and Development in the Twentieth Century

Change and Development in the Twentieth Century

Change and Development in the Twentieth Century

Synopsis

Most studies of 20th-century social theory still view historical development through the lens of the Cold War. This important study challenges the prevailing ahistorical Cold War paradigm by looking at theoretical traditions formulated by Marx, Durkheim and Weber that have shaped discussions about change and development for nearly a century. The author explores how these perspectives were formed, how later ideas were incorporated, and the relevance of these theories to national and international structures of power. In providing a new window through which to analyze social change, this accessible book tackles a wide range of subjects, including:¿ the rise of industrial capitalist society¿ imperialism¿ regimes and territories on the edges of states¿ the resurgence of the idea of progress and cultural revolution in the US¿ decolonization and modernization theory¿ social revolution¿ rituals of rebellion¿ postcolonial discourse¿ the collapse of the socialist block and the resurgence of nationalism.This stimulating book will be of interest to anyone studying social and cultural change, development, the history of anthropological theory, or the history of social thought.

Excerpt

The first anthropology course I ever taught was Culture Change. That was in the fall semester of 1963 at the University of California, Berkeley. I had returned a few weeks earlier after thirteen months in Peru. While I had notes for the dissertation I was trying to finish, I had none for the course I was about to teach and only vague ideas about what I should include in it. Choosing an historical approach and talking about cultural evolution, acculturation, and innovations were endorsed by my new colleagues and former/current teachers; choosing to explore the impact of depopulation in colonial areas and the consequences of the Japanese Relocation Camps in California during the Second World War received less enthusiastic, more critical responses. ‘You probably shouldn't talk about that,’ one professor told me. A couple of others merely smiled at the choices. I was never quite sure what their smiles meant, but clearly they didn't mean the same thing, since one was sympathetic to the Left and the other was a Cold Warrior. I should have asked, but I didn't.

I have taught social and cultural change courses on a pretty regular basis since those days. However, the content has changed steadily over the years. It has changed in tandem with my understanding and appreciation of the dialectical development of Western social thought. That began when I was volunteered to teach thirty-five students each year in a required ‘Western Intellectual Heritage’ course that none of them wanted to take. Student approval ratings began to soar once they grasped the dialectical nature of what they were reading and discussing in class and its relevance to their everyday lives.

The idea for this book began to crystallize a couple of years ago. I was having dinner one evening with Kathy Walker, my friend and colleague at Temple University, who asked me what I had been thinking and reading about in recent weeks. Since I was trying to understand the dissolution of the socialist states – especially the USSR, which only a few years earlier had usually been portrayed as one of the world's two great ‘superpowers’ – I told her about Soviet agricultural statistics in the 1980s. She then described the hundred thousand or so men and women she had seen at a railway station a few years earlier in the Yangzi Valley. They had been displaced from land in the countryside and were swarming into the cities in search of wage work. It reminded me of Peru in the 1950s. After coffee, when the bill arrived, she was still asking me questions about the connections I saw between these events. While I didn't have too many answers at that moment, I knew that I

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