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Tradition and Modernity: Misplaced Polarities in the Study of Social Change

Joseph R. Gusfield
American Journal of Sociology
Vol. 72, No. 4 (Jan., 1967), pp. 351-362
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2775860
Page Count: 12
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Tradition and Modernity: Misplaced Polarities in the Study of Social Change
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Abstract

"Tradition" and "modernity" are widely used as polar opposites in a linear theory of social change. This theory is examined in the light of Indian and other materials on development. Seven fallacies in this contrast usage are presented. It is incorrect to view traditional societies as static, normatively consist, or structurally homogeneous. The relations between the traditional and the modern do not necessarily involve idsplacement, conflict, or exclusiveness. Modernity does not necessarily weaken tradition. Both tradition and modernity form the bases of ideologies and movements in which the polar opposites are converted into aspirations, but traditional forms may supply support for, as well as against, change.

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