In this chapter, we are going to look at how modernisation theory was criticised during the 1960s and 1970s in the light of the experience of the many countries in Africa and Asia which became independent during that period, and the experience of the Latin American countries which had become independent much earlier (see box 2.1). The most fundamental objection to modernisation theory was that it assumed 'developing' societies could follow the already developed countries along their wellworn path to development. When experience showed that this was not happening, sociologists began to construct theories which asked, and answered, different kinds of questions. In particular, they asked questions about the history of imperialism and its effects on developing countries. In doing this, they moved the discussion of development away from individual societies taken in isolation. They proposed that each society's development problems could only be understood in relation to its place in a 'world system'.
Box 2.1Dates of independence of some countries