We have seen in chapter 1 that, in some respects, industrialisation is one of the original problems of sociology. It is a major concern of the sociology of development.
Many of the dichotomies, pairs of opposites, which are to be found in sociological writing attempt to describe the distinctions between industrial and pre-industrial societies. From presociological writers like Henry Maine (1822-1888), through Durkheim and Tonnies, to more recent writers such as Redfield (1897-1958), Etzioni and Eisenstadt (writing in the 1960s and 1970s), the emphasis has been on the attempt to describe the distinctive features of industrial society, and sometimes the processes through which the transition comes about from preindustrial to industrial society.
In many cases, the features which were said to describe pre-industrial society were based more on myth and belief than on research and historical scholarship. In the same way, the particular characteristics suggested as important measures of industrial, 'modern' society have been selective.
Nonetheless, one of the features said to distinguish the developed from the underdeveloped world is the existence of industry in the former and its absence in the latter. This suggests that we should be clear as to what 'industrialisation' means (see box 4.1).