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Modernity and diversity: reflections on the controversy between modernization theory and multiple modernists
Volker H. Schmidt Social Science Information 2010 49: 511 DOI: 10.1177/0539018410376882 The online version of this article can be found at: http://ssi.sagepub.com/content/49/4/511

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Theory and methods Thorie et mthodes Volker H. Schmidt

Modernity and diversity: reflections on the controversy between modernization theory and multiple modernists
Abstract. The article revisits modernization theorys convergence claim, which has been strongly criticized by multiple modernists, who maintain that emerging realities have not borne out its underlying premises. Based on a thorough reading of classical texts, the article reconstructs the terms meaning within a modernization-theoretical frame of reference and then considers the evidence that multiple modernists hold against it. It finds that none of the observations cited by leading multiple modernists are able to challenge modernization theory, which can easily accommodate the kinds of difference invoked by its critics. East-Asian modernity in particular, to which both sides assign special weight for any test of modernization theory, appears remarkably similar to Western modernity when viewed through the lenses of this theory. At the same time, the literature on multiple modernities, despite pleading to take difference seriously, is silent about differences that large parts of the lessdeveloped world exhibit vis-a-vis the West and East Asia in social-structural and cultural respects, indicating different degrees of modernization. The article concludes with a brief note on the differential weight of different kinds of diversity for different reference problems and a suggestion for a constructive resolution of the conflict between the two approaches.
Key words. Convergence Diversity Modernity Modernization Multiple modernists

Rsum. Larticle revisite lhypothse de convergence de la thorie de la modernisation, objet de lourdes critiques de la part des thoriciens des modernits multiples, qui soutiennent que les ralits mergentes nen ont pas confirm les prmisses de base. Partant dune lecture approfondie des textes classiques, larticle reconstruit le sens du terme dans le cadre de rfrence thorique de la modernisation et considre les faits que les thoriciens des modernits

The Author(s), 2010. Reprints and permissions: http://www.sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav Social Science Information, 0539-0184; Vol. 49(4): 511538; 376882 DOI: 10.1177/0539018410376882 http://ssi.sagepub.com

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multiples lui opposent. Larticle montre quaucune des observations releves par les thoriciens des modernits multiples les plus minents ne peut rivaliser avec la thorie de la modernisation, qui saccommode facilement de toutes les divergences quinvoquent ses critiques. La modernit est-asiatique en particulier, laquelle les deux camps attribuent un poids particulier pour tout test de la thorie de la modernisation, parat en ralit remarquablement semblable la modernit occidentale vue au travers du prisme de cette thorie. En mme temps, la littrature sur les modernits multiples, bien quelle plaide pour que lon considre srieusement les diffrences, reste muette quant aux diffrences entre de grandes parties du monde moins dvelopp et loccident ou lAsie de lest dans les domaines sociaux et culturels, qui indiquent diffrents degrs de modernisation. Larticle se conclut par une brve note de discussion sur le poids diffrentiel de diffrentes sortes de divergences lgard de diffrents problmes de rfrence et plaide en faveur dune rsolution constructive du conflit entre les deux approches.
Mots-cls. Convergence Diversit Modernisation Modernit Modernits multiples

I The concept of multiple modernities has been developed with a view to highlighting the ways in which modern societies differ from each other.1 Other sociological approaches, mostly anchored in some version of modernization theory, emphasize such societies commonalities. But does the juxtaposition of convergence and divergence in the form of a mutually exclusive, binary opposition really make sense? Might it be that there is convergence in some respect, while diversity persists in other respects; that there are dimensions of social change that exhibit common trends across regions and cultural zones, while other aspects of social life show remarkable resilience against homogenization? The present article argues that the controversy between modernization theory and multiple modernists cannot be settled by empirical means alone because the question as to whether modern societies converge or diverge is not an eitheror question. Comparing any two societies will inevitably yield commonalities as well as differences. Facts are meaningless, however, unless their status is determined for a given reference problem: the same observation can carry extremely different weight depending on the frame of reference within which it is considered. The frame of reference for the controversy between modernization theory and multiple modernists is the theory of modernity. If one wants to know what a particular observation means for that theory, one first needs to lay out the conception of modernity that is being employed or proposed. Only then can one assess the significance of empirical phenomena.

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As will be shown below, modernization theorys and multiple modernists understandings of modernity differ greatly. But whereas modernization theory draws upon a relatively clear conception of modernity, multiple modernists have yet to elaborate theirs so far, they have not gone beyond giving a few rather vague hints as to what they might mean by the term. Instead, they position themselves against modernization theory, especially against that theorys convergence claim, arguing that emerging realities have not borne out its underlying premises. To judge the soundness of this criticism, much depends on how the notion of convergence is understood. Based on a thorough reading of the pertinent literature, section two examines the terms meaning in a modernizationtheoretical context. It finds that modernization theory provides ample scope for covering diversity. Section three substantiates this claim by exploring the significance of the findings that Shmuel Eisenstadt, who coined the term multiple modernities, holds against it. Arguing that modernization theory can easily accommodate the kinds of difference that Eisenstadt alludes to, it then looks at a number of differences that would seem to be highly meaningful from a modernization-theoretical viewpoint but are largely ignored by multiple modernists. Section four compares the two world regions that have thus far progressed furthest toward modernity, namely the West and parts of East Asia, to test the convergence claim, and finds it to be empirically validated. In section five, the article closes with a brief note on the differential weight of different kinds of diversity for different reference problems, as well as a tentative suggestion for a constructive resolution of the conflict between the two approaches. II Modernity is an important concept in sociology, as it stands for the very societal formation to whose emergence the discipline itself owes its existence. Modern society, as conceptualized in the works of classical sociological thinkers such as Herbert Spencer, Karl Marx, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, Georg Simmel and Talcott Parsons, is radically different from earlier modes of societal organization and the outcome of a fundamental transformation of society matched in historical significance only by the Neolithic revolution. Modernization, the change that results in modernity, is an interlinked process of structural differentiation, cultural rationalization and personal individuation in the views of these classics. Once set in motion, social change becomes endemic, favoring institutions that are both adaptable to and stimulate further change.

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Multiple modernists reject this conceptualization based on its alleged incapacity to capture the immense social, political and cultural diversity displayed by the modern age. This diversity, they claim, can be accounted for only if the concept of modernity is pluralized. But before one can pluralize any concept, one first needs to know what its variants have in common, because unless one does, there is no way to tell whether a particular case is really a variant of the type in question or rather something else. There can thus be no meaningful talk of modernities without a proper definition of modernity.2 Regrettably, though, a sufficiently clear definition of modernity is conspicuously absent from the literature on multiple modernities, as even sympathetic observers have had occasion to note (see e.g. Allardt, 2005). It is, however, clear what the notion of multiple modernities goes against, namely the classical theories of modernity and, especially, the modernization theory of the 1950s and 1960s, because Eisenstadt and several of his followers have spared no effort to state their aversion to these theories (see Eisenstadt, 2000a; Wittrock, 2000). Taking modernization theory as a point of departure should therefore provide some hints as to the kinds of assumptions the critics must be making to lend the notion of multiple modernities credibility. As indicated in the introduction, the main point of contention between modernization theory and multiple modernists is the formers claim that modernization is a homogenizing process, ultimately leading to the convergence of the societies undergoing it: a process of social change whereby less developed societies acquire characteristics common to more-developed societies, as Daniel Lerner (1968: 386) put it. But what does modernization theory actually mean by convergence? To answer this question, it is important to keep in mind that modernization theory is conceptually anchored in the work of Talcott Parsons. As is well known, Parsons theory of modernity is embedded in a more encompassing theory of action systems. Society, in Parsons conceptualization, is a subsystem of the social system, which in turn is one of four subsystems of the general action system, the other three subsystems being the cultural system, the personality system and the behavioral organism. Modernization theory concerns itself only with the social, cultural and personality systems. It argues that upon modernization the personality system becomes increasingly achievement oriented, aware of its own individuality and empathetic; that modernization leads to rationalization, value generalization and the diffusion of secular norms in the cultural system; and that functional differentiation is the dominant trend in, as well as foremost structural characteristic of, modern society, the social system that is of special interest to sociological theory (Lerner, 1958, 1968; Parsons, 1964, 1977). Much like other macro-sociological approaches, modernization theory places particular emphasis on developments in the economic and political subsystems

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of society,3 but other important subsystems such as the educational system, the scientific system, the legal system and the system of mass media are also examined.4 In the economy, the most salient change from the viewpoint of modernization theory is the emergence of self-sustained growth; in politics, it is growing participation by the citizenry (that the population only becomes in the modern age); in education, the spread of mass schooling; in science, the establishment of the research university and other purely research-oriented institutions; in law, the enunciation of universalistic norms and their application by professionally trained, independent judges; in the media, the rapid diffusion of information to mass audiences and, thus, the creation of public opinion. Functional differentiation, while constituting a key, perhaps the key, difference from the structure of pre-modern society (whose mode of societal organization is dominated by the stratification system), is institutionally underdetermined and hence compatible with a variety of institutional forms. Modernization theorys understanding of the institutional make-up of modern society is, once again, inspired by Parsons work, especially by his theory of evolutionary universals. In an influential article outlining that theory, Parsons associates the progression of stages of societal evolution with critical evolutionary breakthroughs that give more-advanced societies an edge over lessadvanced ones in terms of their capacity to adapt to environmental conditions. In the case of modernity, Parsons identifies four such universals that he believes were crucial both for its breakthrough and ultimate consolidation: money and market systems in the economy, democracy in the political realm, the rule of law and equality before the law in the legal sphere, and bureaucratic organization of public and private institutions (see Parsons, 1964).5 This characterization, while still somewhat vague, obviously bears much resemblance to the Western model of modernity, to which it does indeed owe a lot. Note, however, that it does not reflect a consensual position shared by all modernization theorists. Samuel Huntington, for instance, in his book Political order in changing societies (1968), offers a less-demanding conceptualization of at least political modernity by arguing that the most important political distinction in the modern age is not the one between democracies and dictatorships but the one between those governments that really do govern the country under their (formal) jurisdiction and those that do not. A modern political order, on his conceptualization, is a system of rationalized authority wherein office-holders are expected to serve the public, rather than purely their own, interest and have the capacity to execute chosen policies based on control of a well-functioning state apparatus. This leaves room for political alternatives beyond (what is now widely viewed as) the Western model,6 for instance for authoritarian systems, as many of Huntingtons critics have pointed out.

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Parsons too allowed for more than one route to modernity and for differential institutionalization of its program, as can be seen from his treatment of the Soviet Union as a near equal to the United States with respect to the depth and levels of modernization it had achieved by the second half of the 20th century (Parsons, 1977: 216ff.). He was, however, skeptical as to the long-term stability of Soviet-style political systems because of their inbuilt legitimacy deficits (Parsons, 1964: 126). History seems to have proven him right on this point.7 But be this as it may, Parsons explicitly stated his belief that there could be [great] variations within the modern type of society (Parsons, 1977: 228),8 and that many more such variations would probably emerge as a result of the global trend toward completion of this type of society, a development which he predicted would likely continue well into the 21st century (1977: 241). The notion of convergence must be understood against the backdrop of this expectation. It applies first and foremost to the basic structure of society,9 the premise being that pre-modern and modern societies differ much more from each other than do the many varieties of (the one type of) modern society that emerge as a result of successful modernization,10 a process that Parsons viewed as far from complete. Convergence, thus understood, occurs when modernizing countries meet two main conditions. First, they must move toward establishing a set of key institutions that the theory regards as essential to modernity,11 and second, they must succeed in making these institutions perform in line with their stated purposes, rather than being mere faades (Meyer et al., 1997) of modernity.12 Even today, many countries fail to meet these conditions and hence would presently not qualify as being fully modern. Yet, while difficult to meet, neither condition requires any modernizing country to become exactly like the forerunners or even a carbon copy (Parsons, 1977: 215) of the United States, as some of modernization theorys fiercest critics would have it (see e.g. Wittrock, 2000: 54). True, Parsons did suggest the United States could serve as a model for other countries in structural innovations central to modern societal development (Parsons, 1977: 215), and other modernization theorists have done likewise. In the wake of the Vietnam War and the student revolts of the late 1960s, arguably also of the decolonization of much of the non-Western world after the Second World War, this suggestion came under fire because it was interpreted as a barely camouflaged rationalization of American imperialism. Is that a sensible judgment? While perhaps politically understandable at the time, the judgments theoretical plausibility is debatable. To understand why, the term modernization needs some clarification. On the one hand, it simply refers to the dynamic aspects of modernity, the processes and products of change that accompany

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the transition from pre-modern to modern society and beyond. On the other hand, it signifies conscious efforts on the part of influential societal actors to set in motion, by means of rational planning, developments that result in what is understood as modernity at a particular point in time. Historically, the two modes of modernization form a sequence. Whereas the earliest breakthroughs to modernity are primarily emergent phenomena, the aggregate effects of uncoordinated actions that, while subverting the old order, were rarely goal directed in the sense of aiming to realize (what only in hindsight and from the scientific perspective of a second-order observation may appear as) a program or project of modernity, later modernizers, through the demonstration effect of forerunners, tend to have relatively clear ideas as to where they are headed and how to get there. The pioneers inevitably serve as models for the followers because not only is it impossible for the latter to ignore (knowledge about) the existence of the former but the perceived superiority of the forerunners provides the very stimulus for modernization. Late modernization, to the extent that it reflects purposive action, is driven by the aim to close the gap with the leaders, and that aim can be realized only through learning from them. Now, to propose the United States as one model for late modernization made perfect sense because at the time the proposal was made the US clearly was a leader in modern development: in the economy, in science, in research and development, in formal education, in social mobility, in popular (everyday mass) culture and arguably in other fields as well.13 Today, the picture is more varied because, emulating best practices of institutional design and policy designation in the United States and other socio-economically advanced countries, several erstwhile followers have become models themselves. And what makes them attractive as models is precisely that they have already achieved what others are still striving for: becoming modern and catching up with the West. But one cannot become modern and catch up with the West without establishing a basic structure of society that resembles that of the West, because this structure is the very condition of the Wests success. Modernization theorys proposal to view the United States as a model for development amounts to little more than an acknowledgement of this fact. III Returning to the multiple-modernities paradigm, it is worth recalling that the gist of the paradigm is explicitly directed against modernization theory; against the view, to quote Eisenstadt (2000a: 1), of the convergence of

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industrial societies prevalent in the 1950s. This view, says Eisenstadt, must be rejected because the actual developments in modernizing societies have refuted the homogenizing assumptions of [the] Western program of modernity by giving rise to multiple patterns of societal organization that are distinctly modern, yet clearly different from Western, or for that matter European, modernity. The contention, in short, is that modernization theory has been empirically falsified. Eisenstadt knows that the language of multiple modernities can be defended only if the differences claimed to exist between modern societies are really profound. Elsewhere (2000b: 110f.), he has singled out Japan as the most important test case for modernization theorys convergence claim, given that Japan was the first non-Western country to become fully modern. Since Parsons (1977: 228) shared this view, he would probably have agreed with the special weight Eisenstadt assigns Japan for any test of modernization theorys validity. Eisenstadt acknowledges that the reasons behind Japans modernization drive may have been similar to those of some of its West European precursors,14 yet maintains that the pattern of modernity that emerged from the process is not. Modern Japan, he argues, exhibits peculiarities that are not just local variations of the Western model, but distinguish it fundamentally from this model (Eisenstadt, 2000b: 111). He then goes on to substantiate his claim at some length through empirical illustration. The first example evoked concerns the goals and effects of social movements in contemporary Japan. Generally, such movements have tended to be less radical and confrontational than their Western counterparts according to Eisenstadt, and while successful in instigating some reform, they fell short of inducing major change in the political center. This center is also not the main steering body of society, with collectively binding decisions often taken by diverse networks of bureaucrats, politicians and members of powerful interest groups, rather than the government or parliament. Other features said to be unique to Japans political system are the low weight accorded fixed principles or ideologies, which are mostly overridden by pragmatic considerations, and the relative weakness of the state vis-a-vis society that constrains the scope for coercive measures and promotes a consensual style of governance (Eisenstadt, 2000b, ch. 3). Eisenstadt gives further examples of Japanese peculiarities, but none of a substantially different nature. Are they significant enough to support the claim that Japan constitutes a unique modernity, one that differs fundamentally from Western modernity? That depends on the conception of modernity employed. What Eisenstadt and his followers have said about modernity indicates that theirs is a conception that focuses primarily on the political system and on questions of collective identity; more specifically, on the

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cultural or civilizational foundations of the imagined communities (Anderson, 1983) that inform the construction of the symbolic order of modern nationstates, as well as on the regime types they establish, the modes of political exchange they enable or encourage, the policies they pursue, and so forth.15 The political system is certainly an important subsystem of society. Yet it is only one of several such systems, and to reduce the whole of society to it arguably entails an overly simplistic conception of modernity, at least when compared with that underlying the differentiation-theoretical tradition in sociology, which aims to capture modern society in its entirety.16 But regardless of what one makes of this, one thing should be clear from the above reconstruction of key modernization-theoretical propositions: the evidence that Eisenstadt has mobilized against them so far poses no challenge to that theory whatsoever. For if one judges this evidence in light of the theorys premises as one must if ones aim is to disprove it then the kinds of difference he invokes are indeed nothing other than minor variations of a basic structure of society that Japan, like other East-Asian modernizers, shares with the West. The same is true of what other multiple modernists have said to stress the importance of difference none of their observations point systematically beyond the concept, or model, of modernity guiding modernization-theoretical scholarship. Nobody denies that countries differ from each other, have their own history, legacies, institutional and cultural peculiarities, collective identities, but that was known long before the multiple-modernities paradigm emerged on the scene. Multiple modernists have yet to show that and why these differences are theoretically important and in which sense they subvert the notion of convergence as understood by modernization theory, the theory from which they distance themselves. To question the significance of some kinds of difference for a theory of modernity is not to suggest the social sciences should be indifferent to differences per se. Modernization theory is certainly not. But to the extent that it does concern itself with differences, they tend to be ones that set modern society apart from pre-modern types of societal organization, that reflect greater or lesser degrees of modernization and development, that pertain to factors which are conducive or detrimental to modernization, etc. Differences of this sort, on the other hand, are largely ignored by the multiple-modernities school despite their undeniable relevance for a theory of modernity. The reason is probably that multiple modernists, while otherwise highly attentive to differences, deny, or at least are unwilling to consider the possibility, that such differences might persist in the modern age. For from the perspective of this school, the whole world is (equally) modern now (Eisenstadt, 2000a: 14).17 All contemporary societies are modern, only differently modern.18

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A differentiation-theoretical perspective casts doubt on this view. A case in point is India. Since its independence in 1947, the country has been a political democracy and thus, politically speaking, doubtless modern, despite many shortcomings of its democracy.19 At the same time, the caste system, and hence a social structure that is incompatible with full modernity, persists despite its legal abolition several decades ago. This system divides the population into closed hereditary groups ranked by ritual status. Intermarriage and interdining across caste boundaries are prohibited, and the relationships between the various groups included in the system are strictly hierarchically organized, with the upper castes controlling positions of prestige and political as well as economic power, and the lower castes relegated to positions reflecting the lesser social worth or value ascribed to them. The centuries-old link between caste and occupation, and, consequently, material wealth or poverty has become less rigid since the 19th century, but socioeconomically privileged groups are still predominantly upper caste and vice versa. Much worse than the situation of members of the lower castes, however, is that of the so-called untouchables, or Dalits, and of numerous tribal peoples, who fall outside the caste system and hence have no place whatsoever within the boundaries defined by that system. According to a recent study, this group, comprising an estimated quarter of the Indian population, suffers extreme forms of exclusion, humiliation, exploitation and deprivation.20 Especially in rural India, where 70 percent of Indians live, many Dalits are denied basic rights of citizenship, such as protection against acts of violence or the confiscation of property, voting, access to public services, selling or buying of goods at public markets, entering temples, freedom in the choice of places of residence, sometimes even marriage. Frequently being kept in conditions of debt-bondage, they suffer from the imposition of forced, unpaid or underpaid labor (remunerated below market rates and often at the unrestricted discretion of quasi-feudal landlords), sexual abuse, as well as visible acts of subordination and public insult, such as having to wear filthy clothes, to stand with bowed head, to walk naked in public, etc. (Shah et al., 2006; Sooryamoorthy, 2008). Alongside other minorities (especially the Muslim population), they also face ongoing discrimination in the public education system, whose systematic underfunding and poor quality further contribute to locking low-status groups into their disadvantaged position (see e.g. Dubey, 2009). While the caste system is unique to India, social cleavages and exclusions of the sort it produces are not; much of Latin America, for instance, exhibits similarly entrenched divisions between quasi-hereditary status groups (Scheper-Hughes, 1992; Larrain, 2000; de Ferranti et al., 2004). Extreme forms of social exclusion pervading the whole structure of society are also

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found in parts of Southeast Asia (e.g. in the Philippines) and elsewhere in the less-modernized world. Social structures that sustain and socio-cultural traditions that sanction practices and hierarchies such as these are inimical to modernity because they are based, or premised, on categorical inequalities that subvert the principle of functional differentiation by erecting virtually insurmountable barriers between the underprivileged and the privileged. They draw a line between what are viewed and treated as essentially different types of human beings among whom horizontal (symmetrical) relations are inconceivable, sometimes even outright heretical (against nature). They also subvert the proper functioning of many formally modern institutions, which they effectively turn into instruments for advancing elite interests through the allocation of public offices (that are often filled on the basis of status rather than qualification), the allocation of public funds and services (whose distribution tends to be highly regressive), and by other means. Before the breakthrough to modernity, a societal order dividing the population into strictly separated and hierarchized strata was the norm in all advanced civilizations; thereafter this order began to crumble and gradually had to give way to a new order wherein each member of society is (to be) regarded (and increasingly also treated) as an equal. To hierarchical systems of stratification, the very notion of equality of status, and hence also that of equal citizenship, is alien and meaningless. Modern social systems, on the other hand, are certainly not egalitarian in all respects, but the inequalities they treat as permissible follow a different logic, are gradual rather than categorical in nature. Needless to say, this is an ideal-typical distinction because in the real world the two types of inequality almost always overlap. Analytically, the distinction is nevertheless important because it points to a key difference between the ideational foundations of modern and pre-modern societies. What to pre-modern societies is just an immutable fact of life constitutes a permanent embarrassment to modern societies because it contradicts their self-understanding the semantics in which they describe themselves and reflect the performance of their institutions. It is precisely for this reason that the existence of deeprooted differences of social class, between the sexes, races, ethnicities, etc., in short: the existence of ascribed differences reflecting gradations of recognized social worth or value, is a problem that requires ongoing remedial effort and/ or justification in modern society. Cultural traditions often serve to perpetuate hierarchies and practices of pre-modern origin. A field in which this is particularly evident is gender relations. The comparatively low value placed on the lives of girls and women in parts of South and East Asia is responsible for widespread female feticide and infanticide, resulting in a highly skewed sex ratio and tens of

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millions of missing women in India and China (Croll, 2000). Unicef (2006) estimates that more than 130 million women and girls alive today have been subjected to forced genital circumcision in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa as well as in parts of Southeast Asia because traditional worldviews, customs and norms deny them the right to sexual pleasure. Illiteracy rates for women in India (Drze & Sen, 2002), but also in many Arabic countries (see UNDP, 2006), are twice as high as those for men, and many more girls and women than boys and men are undernourished because of cultural norms affording eating priority to males (Sudarshan & Bhattacharya, 2006).21 Forced marriages and defense-of-honor killings of non-compliant daughters or sisters are the order of the day in much of the Muslim world, especially in its least-developed parts and among the leasteducated segments of the population.22 The list goes on and on. For a school of thought as sensitive to difference as the multiplemodernities school, it is remarkable how little attention it pays to differences such as these, which are almost totally absent from its accounts of (diversity in) the modern age. Might the reason be that they are hard to reconcile with a perspective that treats all countries and world regions as equally modern? That, at any rate, is how things appear from a differentiation-theoretical perspective, according to which the most important difference between modernity and its evolutionary precursor is that between stratificatory and functional differentiation of society (Luhmann, 1997; see also Parsons, 1964). As long as stratification continues to be the dominant mode of societal structuring, excluding large parts, if not the majority, of the population from access to its institutions and benefits, modernity, in this view, cannot be said to have genuinely established itself. Instead, it is a lived reality only for socially included minorities (Luhmann, 2000b: 232).23 Assuming there are social-structural and cultural differences that, rather than reflecting intra-modern diversity, are better understood as demarcating zones of greater or lesser levels of modernization attained,24 then one needs criteria by which to judge particular cases. Differentiation theory proposes one such criterion, the degree to which functional differentiation has been realized; and its modernization-theoretical offspring adds others, for instance the levels of socio-economic and socio-cultural development, the spread and performance of modern institutions, individuation of persons, the diffusion of secular and egalitarian norms, and others. And while any proposal is debatable, these two schools at least venture to make some. The multiple-modernities school, by contrast, appears insensitive to truly fundamental differences while making much of relatively minor differences in the expressive cultures of contemporary nation-states; of, as John Meyer (2000: 245) put it bluntly, things that in the modern system do not matter.

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As indicated above, modernization theory can easily accommodate differences of the sort that matter to multiple modernists because its concept of modernity is sufficiently abstract to permit a great deal of variation within the modern type of society. Modernization theory does not emphasize such variation very much, but since it does not affect what the theory regards as modern societys fundamental building blocks, that which distinguishes modernity from other societal formations, it rightly ignores it, because it has no bearing on its subject matter.25 Only differences that make a difference for this reference problem ought to be taken into account by a theory of modernity. Sociology is not bereft of conceptual tools permitting us to consider other (e.g. cross-country) differences within a suitable analytic scheme, but confusing the study of modernity with the comparative analysis of developmental policy paths pursued, of institutional regime types enacted, of temporarily adopted collective identities, and of allegedly unchanging cultural traditions upheld by (the intellectual and political elites of) particular countries simply conflates levels of analysis and hence does not further our understanding of either. To conceptualize varieties of this sort, one should better resort to various middle-range theories, as famously proposed, but unduly privileged over grand theory, by Robert Merton. IV To say that Eisenstadt fails to make a compelling case both against modernization theory and for his proposed alternative neither proves modernization theorys correctness nor invalidates the multiple-modernities paradigm as such. After all, the notion could be broadened to cover more social terrain than what a narrowly culturalist and/or political interpretation of modernity captures, and realities might exist that are more damaging to the convergence claim than the findings held against it by Eisenstadt and his followers. Where would one have to search for the requisite evidence and what would it have to show to render Eisenstadts proposal more plausible? The evidence should come from a region that, while socio-economically in a similar position to the West, has different cultural/civilizational roots and has had different encounters with modernity. As Eisenstadt himself knows all too well, no region fulfills these criteria better than Japan and its neighboring tigers, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore which, taken together, comprise the currently most-advanced exemplars of what could be called East-Asian modernity (Tu, 2000). If this group shows evidence of patterns that distinguish it fundamentally from Western modernity not just in the polity and in the semantics of societal self-description, but across the

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board, in all, or most, dimensions of social change and in all, or most, institutional sectors of society then it might indeed be sensible to ponder a pluralization of the concept of modernity. Reality, however, does not support the idea. East-Asian and Western modernity have much in common, and where they differ, the differences are not significant for a theory of modernity. One feature that East-Asian and Western modernity share, and that arguably differentiates them more from most other world regions than from each other, is the systemic quality of the modernization processes they underwent and continue to undergo, meaning that changes in one factor are related to and affect changes in other factors (Huntington, 1971: 288). Modernization in these two regions, rather than being confined to particular sectors of society and/or to certain segments of the population, has been and continues to be an all-inclusive phenomenon, transforming every aspect of societal organization and the lives of all members of society in a very short time span. A second, and related, aspect that the respective modernization processes share is the direction of change. With minor variations, comparable political, administrative, legal, economic, scientific, medical, educational, welfare, etc., systems are in place that pursue largely similar goals, run similar institutional programs, and are more or less equally effective. All countries in question are rich, some a little more than others, with policies of shared growth benefiting all social classes, albeit to different degrees.26 They all face similar problems and they all respond to them in roughly similar fashion. Major policy reforms pioneered and successfully implemented by one country are sooner or later copied, with some local variation and adaptation, by the others,27 and the laggards of the past may well be the leaders of the present or the future Japan, for instance, had become a world leader in important technologies by the 1990s, setting the parameters of change for others (Katzenstein, 2003: 216ff.), Singapore is increasingly viewed as a model for development in the Middle East, and all five countries have had a profound impact on Chinas transformation drive in the post-Mao era. The demographic profiles of the two regions are remarkably similar: urbanization levels, age structures, fertility rates, life expectancies, educational attainment, labor-force composition (by sector and gender), etc. of their populations all vary within relatively small margins typical of developed nations (see e.g. UNDP, 2007: 243ff.). Living arrangements, life-styles, consumption patterns and, as global surveys show, increasingly even value systems are moving in common directions (with self-expression values becoming more prevalent over time and traditional values slowly subsiding, though nowhere fully disappearing; see Inglehart & Welzel, 2005).

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Of course, differences are also to be found between and within the two regions. In terms of their impact on the performance of public institutions and private organizations, these differences are relatively insignificant though, and they pale, once again, in comparison to the differences that distinguish the group as a whole from much of the rest of the world that has not yet reached comparable levels of development. There are certainly differences in the political systems, and in terms of the specific conditions facing different groups of citizens or interested parties, these differences can matter a great deal. At the same time, the respective polities all excel in good governance, serving the people better than their (often highly corrupt, if not outright predatory) equivalents elsewhere in the world (Kaufmann, Aart & Mastruzzi, 2008). The legal systems are all based on European civil or common law (adding, in some cases, elements of classical Chinese law), and while they tend to be more eclectic in East Asia than in the West (as well as characterized by a general preference for persuasion and informal conflict resolution over litigation and the application of formal law that is deeply rooted in Confucian traditions; see Glenn, 2007, ch. 9), the rule of law is observed more thoroughly in these two regions than anywhere else, some local variations notwithstanding.28 Different varieties of capitalism with different degrees of state intervention/coordination are practiced in (parts of) North America, Europe and East Asia (Stubbs, 1995; Hall & Soskice, 2001; Streeck & Yamamura, 2001; Yeung, 2004), and the respective business cultures also vary somewhat, but together, the two regions economies top any list of global competitiveness, productivity, efficiency, innovativeness, leaving other regions far behind (World Economic Forum, 2007; World Trade Organization, 2007; Gill & Kharas, 2007).29 The welfare systems established by the groups members differ markedly, but in contrast to much of the rest of the world, where such systems barely exist (or where they cater much more to the needs of narrow groups while excluding others, as in Latin America; see Haggard & Kaufman, 2008),30 they all have functioning mechanisms for protecting the most vulnerable and for enabling (Gilbert, 2002) the poor in place (Schmidt, 2008). They also dominate the worlds research and development (Gill & Kharas, 2007), and while the West was much ahead until recently, East Asia has rapidly caught up and now is the only region outside the West that has a sizeable number of worldclass universities/research institutes (Shanghai Jiao Tong University, 2009; QS, 2009). The science produced there addresses the same global community, uses the same methodologies, follows the same standards of excellence and is equally productive in terms of the number of patents yielded per scientist (World Intellectual Property Organization, 2007). Taken together, the

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two regions also boast the best educational and medical systems in the world, and while the organization of both systems varies slightly from country to country, they share key premises, technologies and characteristics, not the least of which is a common knowledge base.31 One also finds some differences in the ordinary lives led by the various populations: in the rites they perform, in the deities (if any) they worship, in the religious and secular festivities they celebrate, in the diets they prefer, etc. Generally speaking, everyday morality and political thought tend to be more conservative in East Asia than in the West, owing partly to the legacies of authoritarianism (Chung, 2005), partly to a greater compression of developmental time32 and partly to cultural dispositions rooted in Confucian and other indigenous traditions that retain some force despite the corrosive effect of modernization. Religious life in East Asia is dominated by Buddhist traditions, while Christianity prevails in the West. However, syncretistic mixtures of local and foreign religions are becoming more common in both regions, and so is religious pluralism.33 Religiosity is probably stronger in East Asia than in Western Europe, but not necessarily stronger than in the United States. Foodwise, local cuisines dominate almost everywhere, but with growing wealth culinary variety increases in East Asia no less than in the West. Conservative East-Asian elites often reject what they regard as Western individualism but face more and more questioning of collectivist, allegedly Asian values; especially young, highly educated, career-oriented women increasingly refuse to sacrifice their own aspirations for the benefit of some larger group (mainly the family), and womens emancipation is progressing throughout the region despite strong countervailing forces (Peng, 2003; Bulbeck, 2005). Divorce rates and singlehood, while low by Western standards, are rising throughout East and Southeast Asia (Jones, 2005; Quah, 2008). People pass through the same, more-or-less standardized biographical phases, pursue the same goals and pastimes, face the same pressures, etc. In short, the lived experience of a typical middle- (or upper-, or lower-) class person in almost all respects resembles that of his or her counterpart in the other region.34 What is true of the comparison between East Asia and the West would not hold to the same degree for a comparison between either side and most other parts of the world which is precisely what one would expect from a modernization-theoretical viewpoint according to which degrees of similarity are likely to vary with levels of development, and with few exceptions, these tend to be lower in other world regions. If, however, the more fundamental differences are not to be found among equally or similarly modern (developed) countries and world regions but rather between them and the less-modern (developed) rest, then what does that imply for the persuasiveness of the multiple-modernities approach?

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The multiple-modernities paradigm, as it has thus far been developed and employed, leaves much to be desired. Neither does it furnish new factual insights about modernity nor does it widen our analytical horizons to cover aspects that other concepts cannot address.35 Instead, it creates confusion by pluralizing the notion of modernity without elaborating its meaning, and by invoking anecdotal evidence for diversity whose existence no one denies but whose relevance for a theory of modernity has yet to be established in a systematic and coherent fashion. Drawing upon the differentiation- and modernization-theoretical traditions, the present article has argued that not all empirically observable differences are equally significant. Instead, their conceptual weight depends on the research questions pursued and on the analytic frames of reference brought to bear upon them. Using modernity as the chosen frame of reference, one has to target relatively high levels of abstraction, meaning that phenomena which would appear as different from a lower level of abstraction must, or can, be treated as instances of convergence when compared with what would count as a real difference at this higher level of abstraction. To illustrate, consider the literature on welfare states. One finding of this literature is that different welfare regimes exist in different parts of the world, with different socio-historical, political, economic and other factors determining the regime types that emerge in given localities (see EspingAndersen, 1990; Holliday, 2000; Haggard & Kaufman, 2008). Another finding is that all welfare systems differ from each other, defying any effort to fit them into broader typologies (Kasza, 2002), and still another finding is that virtually all countries that grow affluent as a result of successful modernization will sooner or later establish some kind of welfare state, regardless of the political orientations of the ruling elites, the power resources of political actors, etc. (Wilensky, 1975). These findings are often presented as though they contradicted each other. But they need not do that because in one sense they are all correct. From the viewpoint of a theory of modernity the most important question is not that about the peculiarities of specific welfare states in otherwise developed countries but whether state-run or regulated welfare mechanisms exist at all. Convergence would mean they exist; divergence, that they do not exist. To say that social security in the context of a welfare state can be organized very differently is true, but answers a different reference problem, namely questions of the sort How do various welfare states provide social security?, How did they evolve historically?, etc. If the research stimulated by such questions finds crosscountry commonalities and differences that co-vary with certain factors,

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then it makes sense to systematize this finding and to construct typologies of welfare regimes. But typologies inevitably abstract from differences that exist among the representatives of any particular ideal-type. So while greater emphasis is placed on cross-national variations, the chosen frame of reference does not capture differences that welfare states resembling each other in some dimensions may display in other dimensions that are ignored or downplayed by the typology.36 One way of dealing with this problem is to revise the typology; another, to step down to yet a lower level of abstraction by pursuing reference problems for which the respective differences matter. For instance, if one wants to know how welfare funds are allocated across different fields of social policy (e.g. public health, public education, retirement, etc.) and how this impacts on the aggregate welfare of different populations, then what may be minor variations from the viewpoint of a theory of the welfare state can suddenly assume great significance. The exercise could be continued and extended to virtually any field of inquiry. In short, the aspects of reality that social-scientific analyses emphasize are not simply a function of truth or falsity but depend in large measure on the reference problems they pursue. Transposing this consideration to the controversy between modernization theory and multiple modernists suggests the following conclusion. Multiple modernists are interested in certain questions, modernization theorists in others. Multiple modernists want to know how deep-rooted cultural continuities manifest themselves in the collective identities, to some extent also policies, of nation-states, how they shape the perception of problems, the construction and functioning of institutions, and so forth. They want to lay foundations for a historically oriented, context-sensitive sociology that can account for various differences attracting their attention (see e.g. Spohn, 2006). These are no doubt legitimate concerns. But they are not the same as those driving modernizationtheoretical scholarship, which focuses on what is unique to modernity as a societal formation, on the transformations set in motion by the transition from the pre-modern to the modern age, etc. One consequence of this difference is that the two approaches findings often have no direct bearing on each other. They answer different research questions and in so doing highlight different facets of reality. Ignoring this can lead to misunderstandings. It should therefore come as no surprise that the two sides frequently talk past each other. At the same time, both clearly have their blind spots. And since the common language the language of modernity they use suggests they might share at least some common ground, one wonders whether they could actually complement or crossfertilize each other. Could they?

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They could indeed. One possibility is this. Multiple modernists have rightly pointed out that modernization theorists tend to view the modern world through the prism of the West. As modernity is becoming a truly global phenomenon (Schmidt, 2007), careful analysis of later modernities (Kaya, 2004) might suggest amending some of the premises under lying classical theories of modernity, whose experiential basis was evidently narrower than that available to contemporary analysts. Here, multiple modernists could provide some input and inspiration. For instance, just as the comparative literature on varieties of capitalism has enriched our understanding of modern capitalism by demonstrating that there is no one best way of organizing a capitalist economy, a globally oriented varieties of modernity approach (see Schmidt, 2006) that went beyond the economy and covered other subsystems of society as well could help overcome some of modernization theorys biases and parochialisms. Moreover, as the centers of modernity are gradually shifting to non-Western locations (Schmidt, 2009), the Wests power to define modernity also diminishes. This opens up space for renewed interpretations, and with new contenders participating in the politics of interpretation, it is safe to predict that the worlds future understanding of modernity will not only differ from todays, but also reflect a broader value, experience and interest base. However, and this is where multiple modernists could benefit from more receptiveness toward modernizationtheoretical thought, to the extent that such a shift is actually taking place, it does so precisely because of ongoing modernization outside the Western hemisphere. And this modernization may change the (newly) modernized more than multiple modernists, who strongly accentuate (perhaps over-accentuate) cultural continuities, seem prepared to expect. So while multiple modernists correctly insist on the multitude of ways in which modernity expresses itself, we should also not underrate modernitys transformative capacities and rule out the emergence of novel modernities whose rooting in the past is at best tenuous.
Volker Schmidt teaches sociology at the National University of Singapore. Before joining NUS in 2000, he held teaching and research positions at the Universities of Mannheim and Bremen, respectively. In 1997/98 he was a J. F. Kennedy Memorial Fellow at the Center for European Studies, Harvard University, and during 2008/09 he was a Visiting Fellow at the excellence cluster Religion and Politics in Modernity, University of Mnster. Schmidt is the author or co-author of five books and editor or co-editor of another four volumes. His main areas of specialization are the sociology of justice, health and social policy, social theory, and modernization research (with a special emphasis on East Asia). Authors address: Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore, 11 Arts Link, Singapore 117570. [email: socvhs@nus.edu.sg]

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Notes
1. The present article is a revised and extended version of a paper originally prepared for the mid-term conference of the ISA Research Committee on Sociological Theory at Pusan National University, Pusan, 235 June 2008. Portions of the paper were also presented at the 38th World Congress of the International Institute of Sociology, Budapest, 2630 June 2008, at the 1st ISA Forum of Sociology, Barcelona, 58 September 2008, and during my stay as Visiting Fellow at the University of Mnster, excellence cluster Modernity and Religion (August 2008 to June 2009). I thank all participants for lively discussions and criticism. I am particularly grateful to Thomas Gutmann for inviting me to Mnster and for his unceasing effort to make my stay there as productive and pleasant as possible. The present version also benefited from comments provided by Misha Petrovic and the suggestions of an anonymous reviewer. 2. Eisenstadt (2000a: 3) admits as much: In acknowledging a multiplicity of continually evolving modernities, he writes, one confronts the problem of just what constitutes the common core of modernity. As this core he identifies a mode or modes of interpretation of the world that crystallize(s) in a distinct cultural program (Eisenstadt, 2005: 31) which undermines traditional forms of legitimation of social and political orders by questioning their givenness and raising awareness of their malleability. The structural locus for the institutionalization of this program in Eisenstadts conceptualization is the nation-state. Combining these two features with the observation that nation-states have different political systems with different legacies and historically rooted self-understandings, one gets the notion of multiple modernities. 3. Lerner (1968: 388), for instance, views economic development as the prime mover of modernization, and scholars employing a broadly modernization-theoretical frame of analysis have repeatedly emphasized the importance of political initiative for successful late modernization (see e.g. Bendix, 1970). 4. The media, though not of vital interest to most modernization theorists, receive much attention in Lerners account of modernity (see 1958: 54ff.). They occupy no central place in Parsons theory architecture, but Niklas Luhmann, who (is not a modernization theorist but) can be viewed as Parsons legitimate heir in sociological systems theory, agrees with Lerners view about the medias importance; he has, in fact, devoted a whole monograph to their discussion (see Luhmann, 2000a). 5. On the last page of his article, Parsons (1964: 357) identifies the institutionalization of research and development (scientific investigation and technological application of science) as what he might well have called a fifth evolutionary universal, arguing this structural complex has come to assume the same significance as the other four in the 20th century. 6. In the 1950s and 1960s, when modernization theory was most influential, few consolidated democracies existed even in Western Europe. The Iberian peninsula was governed by dictatorial regimes, Greece, after a long period of political instability, experienced a military coup in 1967, Italy continued to be divided into a civic North and a South dominated by hierarchical patronclient relations (on the Italian case, see Putnam, 1993), and West Germany, upon which democracy had in effect been imposed by the victors of the Second World War, was still struggling with a highly authoritarian legacy. The case for identifying the Western model with political democracy would therefore have been much weaker then than it may appear today. 7. It remains to be seen though whether that applies to all types of authoritarian regimes or only to their most repressive variants. Modernization theorists, while mostly leaning toward democracy as a normative ideal, certainly believed that the prospects of successful democratization would increase with higher levels of socio-economic modernization (the locus classicus for this argument is, of course, Lipset, 1959), but even where they argue that a transition to

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democracy becomes likely at a certain stage (e.g. Inglehart & Welzel, 2005), they still insist on the probabilistic nature of that proposition. 8. If Parsons is to be viewed as the author who has laid the theoretical foundations of modernization theory, then given the conceptual space his theory affords diversity, it is hard to understand what motivates Arnason (2000: 64; original emphasis) to claim [e]arly modernization theory was a priori unreceptive to the idea of significant divergences in patterns of modernization, citing the Soviet pattern as an example. Assuming this pattern was different, then his claim becomes even more puzzling, since Arnason also says, in the same article and referring to Parsons among others, that [e]arly modernization theory did not ignore the Soviet experience (2000: 88; emphasis added). He then goes on to argue that later authors (such as Giddens or Habermas) neglect the Soviet experience for theorizing modernity, and that more recent scholarship has even questioned the Soviet Unions modernness. This observation is correct. Why it should be held against (early) modernization theory is a mystery though. 9. Eisenstadt originally shared this understanding. Summarizing modernization-theoretical scholarship in the 1970s, he says it stressed that the more modern or developed different societies become, the more similar they will become in their basic, central, institutional aspects (Eisenstadt, 1977: 1; emphasis added). Note: more similar does not mean identical, and convergence in basic institutional aspects does not mean convergence in every conceivable respect. 10. Parsons was not the only modernization theorist holding such views; see, for instance, Lerner (1958, ch. 3) and Smelser (1968). 11. Some of the most important of these institutions are: a growth-producing, preferably capitalist economy; a system of good, preferably democratic political governance; the rule of law and a legal system guaranteeing a core set of human rights; bureaucratic administrations staffed with technically competent personnel and insulated from special interests; a collectively run or regulated welfare system covering the entire population and securing its basic needs; mass (public) education; research and development in large science organizations; etc. 12. This qualification is necessary in view of the findings of sociological neo-institutionalism. As John Meyer and his colleagues have shown in many studies (Meyer et al., 1997, provides the best summary), the contemporary world exhibits a striking degree of institutional isomorphism. They also note, however, that formal institutional structures are often decoupled from actual institutional practice, meaning that there is a substantial mismatch between the seeming adoption of a particular model (e.g. the model of the nation-state) and its factual implementation and performance, an observation that gives rise to various diagnoses of institutional failure (as, for instance, in the notion of failed states). For modernization theory, a merely symbolic adherence to shared models does not suffice to carry the notion of convergence; similarity, in this approach, means similar results too. 13. As Parsons (1977: 188) readily admitted, the United States was no leader in the social component though, where it lagged behind several European countries whose welfare systems were more advanced; similar observations have later been made about its comparatively more traditional value system (see e.g. Inglehart & Baker, 2000: 31). Needless to say, to acquire its model status, in an earlier phase the United States itself had to learn from foreign models. Its leading universities, for instance, blend elements of the British and German university systems (see Ben-David, 1971). The result, however, was something new that now sets the global standards of excellence. Of course, ascending to a leadership position at one point in time does not immunize against later decline. Thus, while the United States lead developments in the educational field throughout much of the 20th century, today that is no longer the case (see Goldin & Katz, 2008). 14. A case in point would be Germany, an early European late modernizer with whose development that of Japan after the Meiji Restoration is often compared (see e.g. Bendix, 1970).

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15. See also Tu (2000), Wittrock (2000), Strath (2004) and the other articles in the special issue of Thesis eleven he has edited on Nordic (i.e. Scandinavian) modernity. The orientation of Arnason (2000) is slightly broader, but he too focuses mainly on the political system. Wagner (2008) extends the analysis to the economic and scientific systems, but reduces it to discourse analysis, i.e. the ways in which intellectuals perceive and construe (political, economic, scientific) modernity. Like other culturalists, he has little to say about the structure, institutional make-up and performance of social systems. 16. As mentioned in the previous section, Parsons theory contains four societal subsystems and has the capacity to accommodate several more by treating additional sectors of society (e.g. education, the law, public welfare) as subsystems of one of the others (i.e. of the fiduciary system or of the societal community). Luhmann, who discards the AGIL-scheme for system derivation, treats religion, science, health care, education, even the arts, on a par with politics, the law and the economy by conferring on each system the same conceptual weight. Both theories go beyond purely political definitions of society that, despite having been rendered analytically obsolete by the advances made in 19th-century social theory (Luhmann, 2000b), continue to inspire much contemporary theorizing. 17. Some readers might object that Eisenstadt does not expressly say the whole world is equally modern. That is true. What he does say is that modernity encompassed nearly the entire world by the end of the twentieth century, citing Africa, the Middle East, and several Asian countries (from Japan via India and China to Laos and Cambodia) as examples (Eisenstadt, 2000a: 14) and nowhere indicating any differences with regard to levels of modernization. At the same time, he emphasizes how each country reflects unique expressions of modernity and differences rooted in diverse cultural programs of modernity are the only differences (2000a: 2) he alludes to. In other words, while the above phrasing is clearly an interpretation, it does not seem to be an unjustified imputation. To indicate its interpretative nature, the term equally has nonetheless been bracketed. 18. See also Wagner (2008: 1), who opens the first chapter of his book with the sentence We are all modern now and then goes on to argue that modernity can manifest itself in different ways, while nowhere considering the possibility that it might also manifest itself to different degrees. Like Eisenstadt, he traces modernitys historical roots much further back in time than mainstream sociology, namely to the axial age some 2500 years ago. Consequently, he has no problem treating e.g. ancient Greece as an early manifestation of modernity. Greek modernity, says Wagner, is certainly different from our own, but it is no less modern than current or contemporary modernity (2008: vii). 19. Note that while Eisenstadt (2000a: 23) can see only neutral differences between Indias and Japans democracies, which he attributes to the two countries varying cultural traditions and historical experiences in their encounters with Western modernity, others, using criteria that measure the quality of governance, detect huge differences in the performance of the two polities (see appendix C in Kaufmann, Aart & Mastruzzi, 2008), with Japan clearly superior to, or ahead of, India. In line with this finding, Inglehart & Welzel (2005: 161), drawing upon the widely used distinction between formal and effective democracy, find Indias score on effective democracy to be where one would expect it on the basis of its level of economic development and that level is much lower than Japans. 20. Even today, close to 90% of Dalits and tribal people are extremely poor, at a bare subsistence level without any job or social security, working in the most miserable, unhygienic and unliveable conditions, according to Indias National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector (cited in Banerjee, 2010: 6). 21. A global comparison of gender inequality finds the deprivation levels facing women in India to be exceptional (Drze & Sen, 2002: 70) even by the standards of the developing

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world. For detailed analyses of the various dimensions of their deprivation and of the many initiatives addressing them, see e.g. Bhandari & Mehta (2009). It may be difficult to overcome the vast gender inequalities in India, but world models emphasizing gender equality have reached India no less than other world regions and provide the standards for their de-legitimization by local actors asserting these models universal validity and applicability. 22. Arranged marriages, which also persist in much of South Asia, were once the norm in all high cultures. In 18th-century Europe, a shift occurred in upper-class thinking about the proper basis of marriage, turning love into an essential component of the increasingly individualized choice of spouses (Luhmann, 1987). Gradually, the ideal spread to other social classes and became the norm in Europe and, through the diffusion of modern world culture (Meyer et al., 1997), beyond. 23. For related reasons, Parsons (1977: 184) viewed the incomplete inclusion of the United States black population into its societal community as an instance of ascriptive stratification that subverts the egalitarian premises of a modern society with an open class structure (p. 186f.). Social exclusions on the basis of undifferentiated inferiority (Toby, 1977: 18) clearly persist in the modern age. There is, however, nothing modern about them, if by modern one means perceptions and practices that are congruent with the principle of functional differentiation and/ or with fundamentally new ideas that originate, or only assume significance beyond small circles of intellectuals, in modern times. 24. The above argument that much of Indias social realities are better to be understood as remnants of its pre-modern past than as symptoms of modernity is also supported by Heller (1999: 13), who reports evidence for the widespread prevalence of the traditional, hierarchical, ascriptive social order and who finds that only the state of Kerala has overcome this order on a broad base. The massive socio-economic transformations that India has been undergoing since the early 1990s, while subjecting this order to growing stress, have as yet not fundamentally altered it. 25. Lerner (1958: 78), while expressly alluding to the rich diversity of modernizing and modernized societies, is nevertheless primarily interested in the regularities underlying the variety. Given the subject matter and reference problem of his study, this priority makes perfect analytic sense. 26. Using the United Nations Human Development Index (HDI) as a measuring rod, Japan and the four tigers are in the same league as their erstwhile Western models. Indeed, no nonWestern country from outside East Asia is currently ahead of any of the regions star performers, whose as yet weakest member (South Korea) ranks no. 26 among a total of 182 countries covered by the index (UNDP, 2009: 171ff.). 27. Systematic scanning of the relevant environment is often the first step taken by EastAsian bureaucracies once a problem has been earmarked for political regulation (Katzenstein, 2003: 224). The aim is to learn from the experience of others that have already had to tackle problems of the sort in question. One of the advantages of late development (or backwardness in the jargon of the 1950s and 1960s) emphasized by modernization-theoretical scholarship (see Bendix, 1977: 415) is precisely this opportunity to learn: late(r) developers need not reinvent the wheel. 28. Using the assessment method of Kaufman, Aart & Mastruzzi (2008), South Korea and Taiwan lag somewhat behind large Western countries like the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom or France, but are ahead of Italy. Japans and Hong Kongs scores are close to, or higher than, those of some of the above Western countries. Singapores case is harder to judge, since different indexes (for example Kaufmann et al. vs Bertelsmann or Freedom House) rate it very differently depending on the qualities and aspects of the law that they emphasize. As for South Korea and Taiwan, it is worth noting that it took Western countries centuries to

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develop autonomous legal traditions and relatively corruption-free legal systems. Considering the much lesser progression of developmental time since the 1950s and 1960s, when they began to modernize in earnest, both countries perform remarkably well (much better than many Latin American countries that were ahead of them in several respects) and it is also no wonder that Japan is ahead of them, since Japan was the first East-Asian country to modernize. The stark contrast between countries with low and high levels of judicial corruption is demonstrated by numerous case studies assembled by Transparency International (2007). 29. Moreover, no doubt exists that these varieties are all varieties of modern capitalism. Doubts have, however, been raised as to the modernness of other capitalisms (see e.g. Sen, 1999; Sachs, 2000; Becker, 2009), not all of which have freed labor power from bondage and commodified it, a condition that both Marx and Weber viewed as essential to modern capitalism. Interestingly, and in contrast to what one would expect from a culturalist perspective, the above varieties also cut across civilizational lines, with German (or French) capitalism sharing more features with their Japanese, or East-Asian, counterpart(s) than with the Anglo-American variety. Similar points could be made about social-policy regimes (Schmidt, 2008). 30. Haggard & Kaufman (2008: 79) aptly call the welfare systems found in much of Latin America stratified systems because, while slowly beginning to cover sections of the underprivileged population as well, they primarily serve the interests of core groups. Like other subsystems of society, the welfare systems thus mirror the continued significance of stratificatory differentiation, i.e. the mode of societal differentiation that dominates under pre-modern conditions, in Latin America. Of course such legacies are also to be found elsewhere, for example in the conservative (Esping-Andersen, 1990) social-policy regimes of continental Europe, but their conservation effects are offset to a greater extent by egalitarian elements, which these systems also contain. 31. In the case of medicine, that knowledge base is overwhelmingly scientific medicine. For instance, in South Korea oriental medicine (including Chinese medicine), while still being practiced, accounts for less than 20% of national health expenditure and less than 10% of publicly funded medicine (see OECD, 2003). The situation in other East-Asian countries is similar. If the effectiveness of health-care systems is measured in terms of commonly used indicators such as life-expectancy at birth, infant mortality, etc., then the results achieved by Japan and the four tigers are either similar to or better than those of leading Western countries (see UNDP, 2007: 247, 261). In education, methods of instruction emphasize rote learning and preparation for examinations more strongly than in the West (where such techniques were gradually phased out in the 1960s), but with growing levels of socio-economic development and the attendant demand for more creative employees who are able to solve problems independently, critical thinking and deep understanding have of late gained more prominence in pedagogical thought and practice. In studies comparing achievements of fourth- and eighth-graders in science (Martin, Mullis & Foy, 2008a), mathematics (Martin, Mullis & Foy, 2008b) and reading (Mullis et al., 2007), students from Japan and the four tiger countries consistently reach top scores, outclassing the rest of the world, with students from leading Western nations mostly coming in second (the only exception is reading skills, a field in which East-European students are serious competitors to either group). The rest of the world consistently performs worse. 32. New values, life-styles and role models usually replace older ones in a gradual process that can take several succeeding generations (see Inglehart & Welzel, 2005). 33. Japan in East Asia and several predominantly Protestant or Catholic countries in Europe seem to be exceptions to this trend. 34. For the rapidly growing middle classes in (East) Asia and how they compare to their North-American and European counterparts, see e.g. Robison & Goodman (1996); Pinches (1999); Lange & Meier (2009).

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35. Parsons cultural system provides sufficient conceptual space for analyzing what multiple modernists view as the culture of modernity, and the political order forms just one of his four subsystems of society. There is thus ample scope for multiple modernists to pursue their concerns within the architecture of Parsons theory. The same does not hold true the other way around if Parsons were to adopt the multiple-modernities paradigm, he would have to narrow his agenda regarding the evolution of society considerably. 36. For example, while it is common to view both the British and the American welfare systems as varieties of the liberal regime type, the British National Health Service contains socialist elements that make it more similar to its equivalents in social-democratic European countries than to its United States counterpart.

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