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refers to a model of an evolutionary transition from a 'pre-modern' or 'traditional' to a 'modern' society

Modernisation emerged in the late 19th century and was especially popular among scholars in the mid-20th century. One foremost advocate was Harvard sociologist Talcott Parsons Mandarins of the Future (2003). The theory stressed the importance of societies being open to change and saw reactionary forces as restricting development. Maintaining tradition for tradition's sake was thought to be harmful to progress and development. Debates about modernization time and again follow the same simple innovation-is-progress logic: technological innovation means progress, fosters economic development and growth, and contributes to overall well-being (Knickel, 2013). The theory of ecological modernisation has its roots in political sciences, and focuses on the relationship between environment and society (Spaargaren and Mol 1992, Murphy 2000). It focuses on macro-economic structural change, towards a phasing-out of ecologically ‘maladjusted’ technical systems and economic sectors that cannot be reconciled with environmental goals. The cultural politics and discourse dimension of ecological modernisation, analyses the social construction of environmental issues (Hajer 1995). Generally, the distinction is made between ‘weak’ forms of ecological modernisation, which address environmental problems by a technocratic and instrumental approach while continuing to intensify production and lacks social considerations; and a ‘strong’ form, which includes reflexive processes of social learning (Kitchen and Marsden 2011).


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