Difference between Westernization and Modernization

Sometimes we are use another term i.e. westernization to describe the wide-ranging changes that had taken place in different countries during the last one and half centuries ago. Westernization refers to the process of the imitation of western countries by the non-western countries. In the Indian context westernization refers to changes that were brought about in Indian society and culture as a result of the British rule. Some sociologists equate westernization with modernization, but this is not correct. Modernization has a wider connotation westernization is a sub-process of modernization. The western model is not the only model of modernization. There are Russian, Japanese and other models of modernization too.

Modernization is essential based on a rationalist and positive spirit. While westernization was penetrated only the upper level affecting mainly leisure class fashions, modernization today diffuses among a wider population and touches public institutions as well as private aspirations with its disquieting positive spirit. This is why the modernization process is a mass process involving the mass media. Thus while the nineteenth century westernization process was essentially a middle class affair involving fashions in speech clothing, food and drink habit, the modernization process today involves fundamental deep – seated and wide spread change involving attitudes, the development of a rationalist and oppositionist sprit and the application of the new knowledge to the ways of during. It is essentially a mass affair. It involves not only changes at the institutional level but also fundamental change at the personal level, a change in modes of thinking, beliefs opinions, attitude and actions. It involves a fundamental change in social structure from the imitable closed society to a caste less, class less upon society in which the individuals’ status depends not on his birth but on his personal achievement and attainment.

In contemporary India both westernization and modernization trends are observe now. In large cities the externals of western life are rapidly and easily imitated by the youth in masters of food, dress, music and dance. Exposure to western nation has helped indirectly in encouraging modernization in some fields. This is particularly noticeable in the modernization of office work and in the adoption of managerial techniques of the west or in some of the large forward looking business houses. On the other hand, the rural India which is gradually charging in matters of community development and Panchayat Raj is moving towards modernization rather than westernization.

Thus both westernization and modernization have their distinct connotations. Both have advantages and disadvantages.