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This allows a society to be more creative and to abandon old ways that may no longer be appropriate.However, it also means a weakening or even ending of the traditions that helped define the society and gave it a sense of identity.We considered this briefly in Chapter 5 "Social Structure and Social Interaction" and expand on it here.
Although most of us would applaud this growth in individual freedom, it also means, as Émile Durkheim (1895/1962) from society’s norms and thus to commit deviance.
If we want a society that values individual freedom, Durkheim said, we automatically must have a society with deviance. This is a simplistic question about a very complex concept, but a quick answer is that it is both good and bad.
Modernization implies that progress has been made and is continuing to be made, and who would not want progress?
Yet modernization also has a downside, as we will see in this section and in the later discussion of the environment.
We thus cannot fully understand society and social life without appreciating how societies have changed as they have become more modern.
Not surprisingly, sociologists have recognized the importance of modernization ever since the discipline of sociology began in the 19th century, and much of the work of sociology’s founders—Émile Durkheim, Max Weber, Karl Marx, and others—focused on how and why societies have changed as they became more modern.We see evidence for both responses in the views of sociologists Ferdinand Tönnies, Weber, and Durkheim.As Chapter 5 "Social Structure and Social Interaction" discussed, Tönnies (1887/1963) (large societies with weaker social bonds and more impersonal social relations).In looking at all of these societies, we have seen how they differ in such dimensions as size, technology, economy, inequality, and gender roles.In short, we have seen some of the ways in which societies change over time.A related problem with the terms and concepts of modern and modernization is that many people think of Western nations when considering the most modern nations in the world today.This implies that Western society is the ideal to which other societies should aspire.Tönnies lamented the loss of close social bonds and of a strong sense of community resulting from modernization, and he feared that a sense of rootlessness begins to replace the feeling of stability and steadiness characteristic of small, older societies.Weber (1921/1978) was also concerned about modernization.Another way of saying this is that we have seen some of the ways in which societies change as they become more modern.To understand social change, then, we need to begin to understand what it means for a society to become more modern.