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Political development theory in the sociological and political analyses of the new states Jackson, Robert Harry

Abstract

The emergence since World War II of many new states in Asia and Africa has stimulated a renewed interest of sociology and political science in the non-western social and political process and an enhanced concern with the problem of political development in these areas. The source of contemporary concepts of political development can be located in the ideas of the social philosophers of the nineteenth century. Maine, Toennies, Durkheim, and Weber were the first social observers to deal with the phenomena of social and political development in a rigorously analytical manner and their analyses provided contemporary political development theorists with seminal ideas that led to the identification of the major properties of the developed political condition. But the "before-and-after" models of these social philosophers were essentially static and did not explain the movement of societies from a condition of political "backwardness" to one of political development. Accounts of various paths to political development were sought in evolutionary and diffusionary theories of social change. In addition to formulating various conceptualizations of political development, both as a condition and as a process, contemporary theorists have attempted to discern possible instruments of political development in the new states. Among those identified were elites, ideologies, parties and groups. The capacity of such instruments to effect political development in the new states has been the subject of considerable discussion and debate among theorists. While such instruments may aid in the acquisition of political modernity in the new states, effective and enduring political development appears to require a fundamental human transformation. Such a transformation encompasses two conjoint developments: a fundamental alteration in the political status of individuals in society that is summed up in the concept of citizenship; and a fundamental change in the social and psychological attributes of individuals involving their acquisition of a sense of political effectiveness and a capacity to associate and cooperate in the pursuit of common political goals. The discussion reveals that political development theory constitutes a fusion of the sociological and philosophical dimensions of political analysis. This property of contemporary political development theory places it in the tradition of classical social and political thought.

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