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Theories of Global Stratification: Crash Course Sociology #28

Theories of Global Stratification: Crash Course Sociology #28

For much of human history, all of the societies
on Earth were poor. Poverty was the norm for everyone. But obviously, that’s not the case anymore. Just as you find stratification among socioeconomic
classes within a society, like the United States, across the world you also see a pattern of
global stratification, with inequalities in wealth
and power between societies. So what made some parts of the world develop
faster, economically speaking, than others? [Theme Music] How you explain the differences in socioeconomic
status among the world’s societies depends, of course,
on which paradigm you’re using to view the world. One of the two main explanations for global
stratification is modernization theory, and it comes
from the structural-functionalist approach. This theory frames global stratification as a
function of technological and cultural differences
between nations. And it specifically pinpoints two historical events
that contributed to Western Europe developing at
a faster rate than much of the rest of the world. The first event is known as the Columbian
Exchange. This refers to the spread of goods, technology,
education, and diseases between the Americas
and Europe after Columbus’s so-called discovery
of the Americas. And if you wanna learn more about that, we
did a whole World History episode about it. This exchange worked out pretty well for the
European countries. They gained agricultural staples like potatoes and
tomatoes, which contributed to population growth, and provided new opportunities for trade, while
also strengthening the power of the merchant class. But the Columbian Exchange worked out much less
well for Native Americans, whose populations were
ravaged by the diseases brought from Europe. It’s estimated that in the 150 years following Columbus’
first trip, over 80% of the Native American population
died due to diseases such as smallpox and measles. The second historical event is the Industrial
Revolution in the 18th and 19th century. We’ve mentioned this before, and there are
a couple World History episodes that you can
check out for more detail, but this is when new technologies like steam power
and mechanization allowed countries to replace human
labor with machines and increase productivity. The Industrial Revolution at first only benefited
the wealthy in Western countries. But industrial technology was so productive
that it gradually began to improve standards
of living for everyone. Countries that industrialized in the 18th
and 19th century saw massive improvements
in their standards of living. And countries that didn’t industrialize
lagged behind. The thing to note here is that Modernization
Theory rests on the idea that affluence could
have happened to anyone. But of course, it didn’t. So why didn’t the Industrial Revolution
take hold everywhere? Well, modernization theory argues that the
tension between tradition and technological
change is the biggest barrier to growth. A society that’s more steeped in family systems and
traditions may be less willing to adopt new technologies,
and the new social systems that often accompany them. Why did Europe modernize? The answer goes back to Max Weber’s ideas
about the Protestant work ethic. The Protestant Reformation primed Europe
to take on a progress-oriented way of life, in which financial success was a sign of personal
virtue, and individualism replaced communalism. This is the perfect breeding ground for modernization. And according to American economist
Walt Rostow, modernization in the West took place
– as it always tends to – in four stages: First, the Traditional Stage refers to societies that
are structured around small, local communities with
production typically getting done in family settings. Because these societies have limited resources
and technology, most of their time is spent laboring to
produce food, which creates a strict social hierarchy. Think Feudal Europe or early Chinese Dynasties. Tradition rules how a society functions:
What your parents do is what their parents did,
and what you’ll do when you grow up too. But as people begin to move beyond doing what’s
always been done, a society moves into Rostow’s
second stage, the Take-off Stage. Here, people begin to use their individual
talents to produce things beyond the necessities,
and this innovation creates new markets for trade. In turn, greater individualism takes hold,
and social status is more closely linked with
material wealth. Next, nations begin what Rostow called the Drive
to Technological Maturity, in which technological
growth of the earlier periods begins to bear fruit, in the form of population growth,
reductions in absolute poverty levels, and
more diverse job opportunities. Nations in this phase typically begin to push
for social change along with economic change, like implementing basic schooling for everyone,
and developing more democratic political systems. The last stage is known as High Mass Consumption
– when your country is big enough that production
becomes more about wants than needs. Many of these countries put social support
systems in place to insure that all of their
citizens have access to basic necessities. So, the TL; DR version of Modernization Theory
is that if you invest capital in better technologies, they’ll eventually raise production enough
that there will be more wealth to go around,
and overall well-being will go up. And rich countries can help other countries that
are still growing by exporting their new technologies
in things like agriculture, machinery, and information
technology, as well as providing foreign aid. But critics of Modernization Theory argue that in
many ways, it’s just a new name for the idea that
capitalism is the only way for a country to develop. These critics point out that, even as
technology has improved throughout the world,
a lot of countries have been left behind. And they argue that Modernization Theory sweeps
a lot of historical factors under the rug when it
explains European and North American progress. Countries like the US and the UK industrialized
from a position of global strength, during a period
when there were no laws against slavery or
concerns about natural resource depletion. And some critics also point out that Rostow’s
markers are inherently Eurocentric, putting
an emphasis on economic progress. But that isn’t necessarily the only standard
to aspire to. After all, economic progress often includes downsides,
like the environmental damage done by industrialization
and the exploitation of cheap or free labor. Finally, critics of modernization theory also
see it as blaming the victim. In this view, the theory essentially blames poor
countries for not being willing to accept change, putting the fault on their cultural values and
traditions, rather than acknowledging that outside
forces might be holding back those countries. This is where the second theory of global
stratification comes in. Rather than focusing on what poor countries are
doing wrong, Dependency Theory theory focuses on how
poor countries have been wronged by richer nations. This model stems from the paradigm of conflict
theory, and it argues that the prospects of both wealthy
and poor countries are inextricably linked. This theory argues that in a world of finite
resources, we can’t understand why rich nations
are rich without realizing that those riches came
at the expense of another country being poor. In this view, global stratification starts
with colonialism – and it’s where we’ll
start today’s Thought Bubble. Starting in the 1500s, European explorers
spread throughout the Americas, Africa, and
Asia, claiming lands for Europe. At one point, Great Britain’s empire covered
about one-fourth of the world. The United States, which began as colonies themselves,
soon sprawled out through North America and took control of Haiti, Puerto Rico,
Guam, the Philippines, the Hawaiian Islands,
and parts of Panama and Cuba. With colonialism came exploitation of both
natural and human resources. The transatlantic slave trade followed a triangular
route between Africa, the American and Caribbean
colonies, and Europe. Guns and factory-made goods were sent to Africa
in exchange for slaves, who were sent to the colonies
to produce goods like cotton and tobacco, which were
then sent back to Europe. As the slave trade died down in the mid-19th century,
the point of colonialism came to be less about human
resources and more about natural resources. But the colonial model kept going strong. In 1870, only 10% of Africa was colonized. But by 1940, only Ethiopia and Liberia were
not colonized. Under colonial regimes, European countries
took control of land and raw materials to
funnel wealth back to the West. Most colonies lasted until the 1960s, and
the last British colony, Hong Kong, was finally
granted independence in 1997. Thanks Thought Bubble. This history of colonialization is what inspired
American sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein’s model
of what he called the Capitalist World Economy. Wallerstein described high-income nations
as the “core” of the world economy. This core is the manufacturing base of the planet,
where resources funnel in, to become the technology
and wealth enjoyed by the Western world today. Low-income countries, meanwhile, are what
Wallerstein called the “periphery”, whose natural
resources and labor support the wealthier countries, first as colonies and now by working for
multinational corporations under neocolonialism. Middle-income countries, such as India or
Brazil, are considered the semi-periphery, due
to their closer ties to the global economic core. In Wallerstein’s model, the periphery remains
economically dependent on the core in a number
of ways, which tend to reinforce each other. First, poor nations tend to have few resources
to export to rich countries. But corporations can buy these raw materials cheaply
and then process and sell them in richer nations. As a result, the profits tend to bypass the
poor countries. Poor countries are also more likely to lack
industrial capacity, so they have to import expensive
manufactured goods from richer nations. And all of these unequal trade patterns lead to
poor nations owing lots of money to richer nations, creating debt that makes it hard
to invest in their own development. So, under Dependency Theory, the problem
is not that there isn’t enough global wealth;
it’s that we don’t distribute it well. But just as Modernization Theory had its critics,
so does Dependency Theory. Critics argue that the world economy isn’t
a zero-sum game – one country getting richer
doesn’t mean other countries get poorer. And innovation and technological growth can
spill over to other countries, improving all
nations’ well-being, not just the rich. Also, colonialism certainly left scars,
but it isn’t enough, on its own, to explain
today’s economic disparities. Some of the poorest countries in Africa, like
Ethiopia, were never colonized and had very
little contact with richer nations. Likewise, some former colonies, like Singapore
and Sri Lanka, now have flourishing economies. In direct contrast to what Dependency Theory
predicts, most evidence suggests that, nowadays,
foreign investment by richer nations helps, not
hurts, poorer countries. Dependency Theory is also very narrowly focused. It points the finger at the capitalist market
system as the sole cause of stratification, ignoring the role that things like culture and
political regimes play in impoverishing countries. There’s also no solution to global poverty
that comes out of dependency theory – most dependency theorists just urge poor
nations to cease all contact with rich nations
or argue for a kind of global socialism. But these ideas don’t acknowledge the
reality of the modern world economy – making them not very useful for combating the
very real, very pressing problem of global poverty. The growth of the world economy and expansion
of world trade has coincided with rising standards
of living worldwide, with even the poorest
nations almost tripling in the last century. But with increased trade between countries,
trade agreements such as the North American
Free Trade Agreement have become a major point of debate, pitting
the benefits of free trade against the costs to
jobs within a country’s borders. Questions about how to deal with global stratification
are certainly far from settled, but I can leave you with some good news: it’s getting better. The share of people globally living on less
than $1.25 per day has more than halved since
1981, going from 52% to 22% as of 2008. Today we learned about two theories of global
stratification. First, we discussed modernization theory and
Walt Rostow’s Four Stages of Modernization. We then talked about dependency theory, the
legacy of colonialism, and Immanuel Wallerstein’s
Capitalist World Economy Model. Crash Course Sociology is filmed in the Dr.
Cheryl C. Kinney Studio in Missoula, MT, and
it’s made with the help of all these nice people. Our Animation Team is Thought Cafe and Crash
Course is made with Adobe Creative Cloud. If you’d like to keep Crash Course free for everyone,
forever, you can support the series at Patreon, a crowdfunding platform that allows you to
support the content you love. Speaking of Patreon, we’d like to thank all of our
patrons in general, and we’d like to specifically thank
our Headmaster of Learning Ben Holden-Crowther. Thank you so much for your support.

100 comments on “Theories of Global Stratification: Crash Course Sociology #28

  1. Wiki on U.S. occupation of Haiti for people who were as confused as I was when I heard that:

  2. Anyone discussing topics like this needs to study Japan .
    It went from a feudal society with no industry and little technology to a major world power in a generation after the Meji revolution.
    It has no natural resources to speak of.
    I am convinced that culture does play an important role.

  3. I love crash course but in future courses could you please have more diversity among the hosts? In all the videos I've seen I haven’t seen a single nonwhite presenter (US History, World History, Biology, Economics, Psychology, Philosophy, Anatomy, Sociology, Us Government).

  4. I think claiming for much of human history all of the societies on Earth were poor is problematic. What is your standard? The concept of material wealth has been very different throughout the ages. Is your standard that they didn't have a lot of material objects? Also, in 1940, Italy ruled Ethiopia. Not to be a negative Nelly, but I find some things in this episode problematic.

  5. I think each person should have a utopia starting with the population or 8 billion and work towards a lesser number but not 1 utopia.  At least every person is considered free.

  6. Happy Columbus Day, it's good we are learning about the good and bad about Columbus, not just the Eurocentric model. Thanks Crash Course!

  7. Could you consistently HAVE or NOT HAVE the "coming up next" outro? I get vamped and do research ahead of time if I know what the next episode is on.

  8. Colonialism… what? What if your country is surrounded by poor colonized countries? What if your country is not overpopulated and well located in the Pacific trade route? What if your country is not “trusted” because of the dominant skin color? Crash Course Sociology was the best until this episode.

  9. Hong Kong was not granted independence in 1997 but rather it was "given back" to China, disregarding any sovereignty. You could have said decolonized.

  10. Real easy to rise to the top when you own half the world and use them for your own financial gain, and then leave them in the dust.

  11. So…blame the white man for your problems and abdicate personal responsibility for the future of your people, got it.

  12. Global resources are limited. There is no way everyone is rich at the same time, and there is no way every nation is rich at the same time. If such situation exists, then that means the Earth's resources are used at a unsustainable way, let's say it won't last long.

  13. I wish people in this comment section would stop trying to push Jared Diamond as a source. He is a sham author who does not actually support scientific evidence. Actual scientists in the fields of geography, history, and anthropology have called him out on the many issues with his publications. Heck, there is an entire book called Questioning Collapse written by multiple scientists that is a direct debunking response to his Collapse book.

    Oh, by the way, Jared Diamond also wrote an official review of Questioning Collapse as a representative of the journal Nature, all without pointing out that the book was directly in response to his book and that this was a conflict of interest. And, of course, he completely slagged off Questioning Collapse in the review, using the name of Nature to do so.


  14. another spout of vocal diarrhea from the dumb dimbo…. all the while she gets paid to speak in front of the camera….

  15. Sorry but you have to watch out about your history references. Slave trade makes a triangle. After loading slaves onboard, they would directly go to the Americas, not come back to Europe, because there were no purpose in having black slaves in Europe (the amount of slaves was pretty low). Whereas i the Americas, they needed "strong" hands to exploit in the plantations.

  16. I love the fabricated equality between the independence of African countries with the return of Hong Kong: Have you been to Hong Kong in the last few years? I think that it is dishonest to draw a connection between these two types of events.

  17. I think that one of the big problems we are facing not just today but throughout the history and all different areas of our lives is that we think that the way we live and think is the right one. It works for us, so why not for the others. And so we want to spread that to as many people as we can, trying to help or just minimize the void between ourselves and other cultures.
    But often we forget that maybe other kind of life is not just possible but maybe even better for other cultures and individuals. We are quick to judge but refuse to judged.

  18. I would argue that Wallerstein's description is more accurate-the US runs an empire.And the Pentagon is freaking out that it is unravelling-see their report "At Our Own Peril" :

  19. What about IQ differences between races and ethnicities? People are getting tired of your politically correct 'theories' and excuses to explain differences between people in a way that feels good but does not reflect reality. Intelligence is one of the strongest predictors of success for both individuals and groups. Different races have significant differences in average intelligence and that is the main reason for disparities in outcome between countries and between races in the same country.

    Remember that IQ differences between both individuals and groups are mostly genetic. That's why all social and affirmative action programs devised by leftist social engineers are destined to fail; they assume everything is environmental and socially constructed and therefore 'fixable' and ignoring the overwhelming evidence that point otherwise.

  20. right at the start: "for much of human history, all of the societies on earth were poor" NO, they weren't poor, they HAD ENOUGH. many ancient societies even had enough enough so that they had leisure time to creature, for instance, cave paintings deep in the earth

  21. Ummm, Hong Kong was given back to China, NOT granted independence. They weren't really happy about it, either. Ya kinda just shot your credibility there. Do your homework.

  22. I don't get this 'dependency theory'.

    For example, suppose, country A can produce 50 units of X and 50 Units of Y with a certain amount of resources. It is more efficient in producing X, so if it allocates all it's resources in producing X, it can produce 150 units of it. Country B can similarly produce 50 units of X and 50 Units of Y, or alternatively produce 150 units of Y, as it is more efficient in producing Y. Both the countries need to consume 50 Units of X and 50 Units of Y. Now, if they stop trading and produce according to their need, they will be able to meet their requirements. But if they produce what they are more efficient in producing and then trade, they'll have 50 units of X&Y extra after the trade and consumption, which they can trade with country C for another resource. Global trade based on each nations own competency makes everyone better-off. The key is finding something you can produce more efficiently. Countries that are chronically poor lacks this efficiency/specialization that they can trade with others. Countries that have found out their own strength will eventually get out of absolute poverty. Relative poverty is impossible to eliminate, but we can get rid of absolute poverty. It's quite possible, i believe, to arrange for food, water, shelter, basic education and basic healthcare for every person of the world, provided that, the population don't go above 10 billion.

  23. I defer from the opinion is "getting better" while people are getting more dollars for there laybor the purchasing power of those dollars has been downgrade by 96% since1920…

  24. Intelligence is why humanity have civilization at all. Countries with people of lower average intelligence is an important factor behind poverty.

  25. I would like to correct you about hong kong. This was given back to Chinese control as they(England) see hong kong as a leased land.

  26. You reversed cause and effect. Slavery was ended by industrialization, Industrialization was not propped up with slavery.

  27. By saying that Hong Kong was the last British colony, does that mean that all the other territories around the world formally under Britain were uninhabited when they were claimed by the British?

  28. Uh… Hong Kong is not independent. Hong Kong is a captive province of China now, thanks to the UK's unwillingness to put the people of Hong Kong first.

  29. 10:35 This dollar a day statistic is disingenuous because it was initially developed in relation to the worth of the dollar in 1985, when the statistic was developed. Anyone that knows basic economics knows that the PPP of the dollar will always decrease, and the current IPL of one dollar a day would actually be about $0.85 in 1985 dollars. So that means that people haven't really been lifted out of poverty. If we actually use the initial threshold for poverty, the current metric should be about $2.29 per day, for it to be an accurate measure of people being raised out of poverty. Yet, somehow, we're using $1.90 in 2015 dollars as our metric.


  30. Usually I love these videos….but not this one. It completely ignores the very strong theory that it wasn't an economic driver but rather a paradigm shift in a culture. The U.S. essentially turned the social caste system on its head. With the drafting of the constitution and Bill of rights you basically neutered the practice of caste systems. And the U.S. culturally elevated the merchant class to the top of the social ladder and eliminated royalty on it. This coupled with the liberties and capitalist ideals finally created an environment where you can live, die, or thrive solely on your own abilities to do so. After the founding of these principles is when you finally saw all these industrialization steps and things she's describing economically. And these principles explain why the countries that have adopted them are generating wealth far in excess of what was possible 100s of years ago

  31. The host wears glasses for no reason.. If you look at hes eyes, there is no image distortion that you normally get from wearing glasses.

  32. One could point out that talking about "nations" is a little confusing since wealth usually flows to cities. People it rural areas of "wealthy" nations often have more in common with people in "poor" countries.

  33. "The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact; non-Westerners never do." -Samuel P. Huntington

  34. Thank you, for being so neutral with your presentation of multiple theories and the support/flaws for each. You didn't blame the poor countries, or the rich countries, or make anything political. 🙂 claps

  35. I think it's a big thing to leave out the fact the almost all of the reduction in absolute poverty comes from China, Vietnam and other socialist countries. So maybe dependency theory has more going on for itself than the video suggest.

  36. I tend to be skeptical of a theory that espouses complicated global trends and patterns as a zero-sum game, but in this, they are correct (best as I can tell). The great powers of Europe succeeded at the expense of their colonies and anywhere that wasn't flying their flag (or a flag).

  37. A few natural resource factors also helped Europe. The Americas lacked access to easily domesticated livestock before the Columbian exchange which limited the size of societies that could develop. Later on during the industrialization Europe was helped by the relatively easy access to coal which powered much of the industry AND the trains needed to support it.

  38. Hong Kong was NOT granted independence in 1997. It was handed over to the Chinese government in 1997. Please could you clarify this in the video?

  39. I thought I'd let you know Wallenstein took great inspiration from two latinamerican sociologists, Fernando H. Cardoso and Enzo Faletto, with their book Dependencia y desarrollo en América Latina.

  40. 1:32 Wow… Interesting to see that they state it this way instead of a complete genocyde and pillaging of the native american cultures. It is well documented that the conquistadors stole and killed the native americans. Saying it was diseases and trading is underselling it

  41. India is by no means a middle-income country. Any glimpse at the living conditions clearly indicates that it is low-income.

  42. I do believe that the poorer nations were in some ways not ready culturally to be thrust into the modern technological society we enjoy. They often have hostile totalitarian dictators but with the support of a large portion of civilians. It’s almost as if they need to come upon an enlightenment similar to European nations before they will accept the change we want to see from their governments. Why else would every attempt to create a democracy fail?

  43. This might be answered later in the video but here's the thing. I can see how Europeans spreading diseases and also gaining resources through trade helped them out in terms of supposedly advancing faster but then what's the explanation for them being the ones that traded with/traveled to overseas countries in the first place as opposed to Native Americans, who as far as I know didn't really go overseas to trade/conquer? Was it a difference in resources or something, like what building materials/technology did they have the potential to make with what they had? Or difference in culture? But then how could there not have been ANY Native Americans that thought of seafaring endeavors, since at one point Europeans had to think about that prospect to even start seafaring in the first place?

  44. I don't think you can explain the dynamics of change and differences without considering the impact of evolution and natural selection at the core. For example, what made or motivated certain behaviors that emerged and thrived verses those that did not. Furthermore, What elements of environment acted as the catalyst for change in behavior or selection of natural traits. Moreover, ask yourself what would society and the traits/behaviors of man look like in the context of a world where the environment eliminated need for change or adaptation.

  45. That was well done as always but there were a few serious missteps that ought to be corrected. Wallerstein's capitalist world economy model is a part of his world system's analysis which very much does not belong to dependency theory but instead came as an outgrowth of it as well as the Annals school and other intellectual movements in the way this video mentioned dependency theory come out of conflict theory. Furthermore, Wallerstein's whole point in the founding of world-system's analysis is the concern over the unit of analysis, namely that it ought not be states but instead systems of interactive power both between and within the states and the various bulwarks of power that make them up. Thereby lumping him in with dependency theorists and the tendency of that movement to not culminate into realistic solutions for the states analyzed in their theories is both unfair and a total misreading of Wallerstein. Nice to see him mentioned though

  46. WOWOWOWOW! Ethiopia was never colonized?? what about Italy? and SRI LANKA?? They had a civil war and genocide. What are you talking about?

  47. A lot of the poorest countries are landlocked meaning they can't trade over the ocean, so their economy sucks due to that.

  48. Funny how the book I use in school copies everything she says in this video word for word.. I wonder if you can sue the publisher here 😂

  49. Thank you for the valuable course.
    However, I'd like to point out that inflation should be taken into consideration when making the statement that fewer people are living on less than $1.25 per day compared to the eighties, unless you're talking in real terms

  50. Who else so analytical that they realized she was reading and her notions started to turn against one another. so much conceptualism it's hard to differentiate the problem from the solution anymore… 😢

  51. Probably already mentioned is that the map of the American colonial empire does not include its westward continental expansion. The second point I would make regards Hong Kong, which was merely transferred from one sovereign state to another. Hong Kongers have limited self determination.

  52. Aren't there 5 stages of Rostow's model? I think she forgot the 2nd stage which is preconditions for take-off( where society moves away from traditional society and has an increase in investments in agriculture and infrastructure; But still a primarily still in the 1st sector( Extraction of resources sector)).

  53. It would be so helpful if you guys could actually include references in your videos or even underneath otherwise how can I trust the legitimacy of what you're saying? Makes sense since you guys presented a lot of nonfactual information.

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