Modernization as a Politico-Cultural Response and Modernity as a Culltural Mixture : An Alternative View of Korean Modernization

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Kim, Kyong-Dong
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Institute for Social Development and Policy Research, Center for Social Sciences, Seoul National University
Development and Society, Vol.34 No.1, pp. 1-24
modernizationmodernitypolitical selectivitycultural selectivityadaptive change
Revised paper presented at the international conference on The Course of Modernization

in the Countries and Regions of East Asia, organized by the International Committee of

Historical Sciences(CISH), the Association of Chinese Historians, and the Institute of World History of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, April 7-9, 2004, Beijing, China.
This paper presents an alternative view, an indigenized interpretation, of modernization and modernity from the perspective of the historical experience of Korea. Modernization is conceived as a twin process; first of international acculturation emanating from the initial modernization of the West around the turn of the 16th century; and second, of indigenous adaptive change in each society exposed to it; the former as the converging force and the latter as the divergent process. The nature of the dynamics of indigenous adaptation in each late modernizer society is explained by the Principles of Political and Cultural Selectivity which provide ideas about the interactions among different social forces and selective processes of the existing culture. The end result of this politico-cultural response to the global modernization originating in the West is conceived to be modernity of each non-western modernizing society. Modernity in this sense is a mixture of traditional elements, colonial legacies if relevant, and indigenous effort to adapt to the changing situation, and hence in some respect similar to, and yet in other respects different from Western modernity. The issue of rationality and rationalization, the central theme of Western modernity, is discussed in the context of Korean experience and prospect of change. Finally, some theoretical implications of Yin-Yang dialectics are touched upon for future reflections on the idea of challenge and response in global transformations.
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College of Social Sciences (사회과학대학)Institute for Social Development and Policy Research (사회발전연구소)Development and Society Development and Society Vol.34 No.1/2 (2005)
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