Page images


Arnold S. Feldman
Wilbert E. Moore

It would be patently false to pretend that the expert opinion represented in the preceding chapters yields a unanimous view of what are the important questions or what are the reliable answers. There remain a number of issues, some of which have been sharply joined by the authors of several papers and can be recapitulated here in a somewhat different context.

The focus of these studies has been the involvement of persons in novel patterns of social activity. The acceptance of and adherence to these patterns has been called commitment. The relevant patterns are those hypothetically associated with the process of economic development or, more narrowly, industrialization. This equation of development with industrialization is, however, one of the moot issues, as are the exact requirements of social change and the importance of commitment itself.


It would seem that, of all the proposed patterns of economic development, industrialization requires the most radical transformation of existing ways of working and living. There seems to be widespread agreement that the forms of activity introduced by virtue of industrialization are extremely novel. The one exception to this is reported by Udy in Chapter 5. His analysis indicates that many tribal societies, in their work organizations, have institutionalized norms that are quite similar to those of "rational legal" bureaucracies. Thus it would appear that the equation of industrialization and radical change is somewhat more tentative than is commonly assumed.

Actually, each of the two equations regarding industrialization-economic development equals industrialization, which in turn equals the most radical process of socioeconomic change-has a problematical

As editors the authors have had the opportunity to have the last word and to base that word on revised papers by other participants and their own reflections on the debates at the time of the original conference. This puts opponents at a disadvantage, but one that we have attempted to minimize by a “fair” representation of conflicting views.

character. Both sets of "problems" are the consequence of a third relationship: the more radical the character of the process of change, the higher the social costs, part of which is the increased difficulty of gaining commitment. For if industrialization is associated with extremely high costs and extremely severe commitment problems, the assumption of its inevitability should be carefully scrutinized. Three moot questions are: (1) Is industrialization necessary? (2) If necessary, does it involve the most radical program of change? (3) If it does involve the most radical program of change, does that involve the highest social and personal costs?

Industrialization and Alternatives

Naive socialists to the contrary, the economic problems of newly developing areas are not amenable to solution solely through altering the distribution system. If an economy is to grow, it must produce significantly greater amounts of something of value, whether raw materials or manufactured goods or services. Altering the distribution system may encourage the accumulation and use of risk capital, but there is considerable doubt that simple alteration of the distribution system can supply the levels of investment required for sustained economic growth, no matter how efficiently it is "liberated." 1

The bulk of the available evidence indicates that significant increases in extractive, manufacturing, and service industries are all interdependent. Thus continuing growth in either agriculture or services will depend on and cause growth in the manufacturing sector of the economy. It would appear that economic growth inevitably requires development of the manufacturing sector of an economy, even though the relationship is not exclusive. Knowles presents this position persuasively in the particular context of agricultural underemployment and labor “unrest” (Chapter 16).

It is frequently argued that increased production in the manufacturing sector of an economy does not require large-scale industrialization. The claim is that development programs that stress cottage or small rural manufactories offer the most efficient means for increasing output

1 See John A. Buttrick, “The Formation of Capital," in Harold F. Williamson and John A. Buttrick, eds., Economic Development: Principles and Patterns (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1954), Chapter 5; Henry G. Aubrey, "Investment Decisions in Underdeveloped Countries," in National Bureau of Economic Research, Universities National Bureau Committee for Economic Research, Capital Formation and Economic Growth (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1955), pp. 426–431.

in this sector of the economy. By avoiding the establishment of large factories, radical transformations in workers' life styles are avoided. Accordingly, commitment difficulties might be significantly altered.

A cottage or widely dispersed rural factory program is severely limited in regard to kinds of products. Although it might save the labor force the costs of geographic mobility, it transfers these costs to the sources of development capital, public and private. Some objections to mass industry stem from the brutal conditions of urban life for the migrant. However, working conditions in small rural factories may not be much better. What some scholars portray as craft centers that do not disrupt the even tenor of traditional culture frequently turn out to be rural sweatshops. To paraphrase Morris (Chapter 10), this position might be called "The Myth of Paradise Slightly Altered." It could be argued that although cottage industries are exploitative, workers are not likely to perceive them as such and therefore are more likely to accept this form of development. The obvious answer is that the exploitative nature of a relationship is not reduced by lack of awareness by one of the parties, and such lack of awareness cannot be expected to endure.

In sum, it would appear that sustained growth in the developing areas of the world requires industrialization.

Variability of Industrialism

Given agreement that the goal of economic development must include industrialization, there remains the question of its specific character. This argument is precisely over the kinds and amounts of social change required for successful industrialization-whether industrialization must involve radical processes of social and economic change. The argument is carried on at two levels. In its theoretical form, it is another case of the traditional battle between the adherents of structural uniformity and those of cultural variability. Practically, the argument turns on the question whether development plans should be designed to maximize or to minimize the changes in a population's style of life.

Arrayed on one side are those who hold that although the structure of an industrial society may not be randomly variable, a significant amount of variation is possible and quite efficient. This position is extended to encompass sequences and rates of change as well as patterns of social organization. Singer makes an excellent case for this position (Chapter 14). Belshaw, Hammond, and Herskovits (Chapters 6, 7, 8) all adopt the same general position, with Belshaw giving special attention to possible variation in the sequence and rate of change.

Those who favor adaptability and gradualness in industrial development believe that significant changes in productive processes can be introduced into a newly developing area without radically altering the traditional fabric of life. Hoselitz and Nash (Chapters 12, 17), for example, maintain that the subversion of the extended kinship system by industrialism has not been demonstrated, although they agree that as household or corporate political entities the extended groups lose significance.

Some analysts think that insistence on a set sequence and structure involves costs that will be extremely heavy and possibly destructive of development. Among the costs cited is the considerable misuse of preindustrial skills and talents with the consequent high levels of economic waste. As Singer argues, in a society where productive skills are at a premium, it is a particular sin to waste those that are readily available. Another cost cited results from the failure to employ interaction patterns traditional in the preindustrial society. Thus, Belshaw points out that there is considerable scope for entrepreneurship in preindustrial Melanesia. Further, such native entrepreneurs as exist might be destroyed if support were limited to enterprises that adopted "Western" management practices. Hammond stresses the commitment difficulties that resulted from a failure to employ, or a misinterpretation of, tribal patterns of social organization. In this instance the consequence was wide rejection of a modernization program by the labor force.

Thus the failure to accommodate any modernization program to traditional practices possibly involves waste of existing manpower resources, destruction of nascent entrepreneurs, and rejection of the program by those most concerned.

Arrayed on the opposing side are those who question the possibility of significant variations in the sequence and structure of industrialization. They argue, among other things, that the costs of variation are likely to exceed the costs of radical alterations in life styles. The attempt to minimize the costs attendant on industrialization is thought to place the entire development program in jeopardy. Thus, industrialization historically and contemporarily has involved sizable costs, including commitment difficulties. Although it is certainly desirable to keep such costs at a minimum, ameliorative efforts are necessarily limited by the requirements of industrial production.

Both types of costs are real and both positions involve comparable dangers. It was argued that gradualness could lead to apologies for carrying preindustrial patterns of exploitation into the factory. Correla

tively, insistence on a revolutionary change may lead and indeed has led to apologies for some of the brutal and coercive recruitment tactics commonly associated with initial periods of industrial development-forced labor camps come particularly to mind. Alongside the myths of "Paradise Lost" and "Paradise Slightly Altered" should go the myth of "Paradise About To Be Gained."

The emphasis on limited structure and sequence does not exclude the possibility of cultural alternatives. Nevertheless, although the specifications vary, violations of appropriate patterns can be theoretically specified and have been empirically observed. Thus industrialization is viewed as a process that creates cultural homogeneity, in that certain patterns of belief and behavior are necessarily common to all industrial societies. Moreover, commonality is not limited to the single act or norm but applies as well to the configurations into which they are formed, for example, the interrelations among machine technology, division of labor, and authoritative coordination. The violations of the boundaries of these configurations are as capable of being identified as the violations of any single element.

The specification of some of the social and economic requisites of industrial societies greatly facilitates the analysis of possible alternative paths toward development. If the boundaries of the interrelated acts and norms are capable of identification, then limits of the process are at least located. If it can be demonstrated that a particular path would inevitably lead to violations of prerequisites for structure or sequence, this path must be rejected. Such rejection can be based on theoretical grounds and not primarily on criteria of efficiency, since the theoretically possible paths can vary and be equally "efficient." In sum, lacking a determinate dynamic principle, the method of comparative analysis can satisfy some of the analytic needs and aid search for the dynamic. A closely related question is the extent to which industrial organization or any other structural feature of industrial societies is adaptable to pre-existing social standards as a transitional strategy. The empirical or the theoretical range of feasible structural forms is not actually known. It does appear, however, that some forms of adaptation may result in "traditional stereotyping" and therefore in decreased capacity for continuous adaptation and growth.2 Thus Hammond, although generally favorable to organizational adaptation, noted the negative consequences of attempting to utilize the traditional figures of authority

2 See Talcott Parsons, "Introduction," in Max Weber, The Theory of Social and Economic Organization (New York: Oxford University Press, 1947), pp. 47-49.

« PreviousContinue »