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Critically discuss Rostow’s stages of growth

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 2200 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Walt Whitman Rostow was an American economist who worked on growth and development. He was an economist who believes the growth and the development of the society is possible through the capitalist mode of production and the free market policy. He was a convinced liberal which he expressed in the commitment towards the development and his anti-communism (Simon 2006). Rostow presents his manifesto as the alternative to the Marxism (Gustafsson 1961). He has put forward the stages of economic growth through which every country passes for modernization of the developing countries. He also forwarded the transformation of the development from one country to another by transfer of technology and investment from developed north to the developing south which would help in development of south. Rostow believed that the Marxist was failed because he neglected agriculture and therefore the forces should be used to gain the stages of the economic growth that he has outlined (Simon 2006).

The stage of growth is the model Rostow has developed to show how the countries passes to modernization through different stages he has developed five stages through which each countries passes for the economic modernization of any nation. These five stages are

The traditional society

The precondition for take-off


Drive to maturity

Age of high mass consumption

Rostow states that each country passes through these stages linearly and set out the conditions likely to occur in terms of investment, consumption and social trends at each state. However it is not certain that all the conditions are needed to be fulfilled to pass from one stage to another and the time it takes may vary countries to countries.

The traditional society

This is the primitive stage of growth. This period are marked by the pre Newtonian science and technology. The progress in any economic sector was limited. Though the progress was done with the improvement but the progress has the threshold limit to which it could not increase. It had a self sustained production. Because of low production of agriculture they had to devote high proportion of resources in it (Rostow 1960). During the period social and the political power as laid in few peoples who owned the land.

The precondition for take off

This is the transitional period or stage where society passes from traditional stage to the take off stage by the use of science and technology in the sector of agriculture and industry. The basic requirements or infra structure that are required for modernization of the country such as transportation, communication gets developed. The state has to play a vital role for the development of these sectors. The precondition for takeoff was largely dependent on creation of social overhead capital such as road, railway etc (Rostow 1960). Rostow argues for the transition from traditional society to take off period there is need of social change from regional social economic and political setting to the national level. The predominance in agriculture should shift towards industries and commerce, so that new entrepreneurs evolve and could take the risk.

Take off stage

This is the third stage that the Rostow explains is the period when the obstacles to development are completely removed and the productivity rises and expands. The development of the social overhead capital, technological, and political is the main focus in the takeoff stage. The main important factor is saving over the investment though the high investment in social overhead capital which could be invested. He assumes about 10% of saving over the Gross National Product (GNP) and reinvests them for the economic development.

The drive to maturity

When the takeoff stage continue with the sustainable economic growth for a long period of time then only this stage comes. In this stage the investment rate should be 10-20 % of national investment so that it could outstrip the population growth. In this stage investment should be done in all and produce every things needed for the society. The new industries are established that are capable of producing the goods that supports the agriculture and the other economic sectors for e.g. Fertilizer, agricultural machinery etc. The industrial sectors improve and produce the goods that are imported and also produce the goods for exporting it to the foreign countries.

The age of high mass consumption

The last stage age of high mass consumption is the period where the state moves to the welfare state. People have access to the goods and services beyond the basic fundamental requirement. The focus in this stage is on the production of goods and services. More investment flows on the security and social welfare of society.

Rostow in his book has explained the experience as a white man. It seems that he wants to impose the theory to rest of the world. He has taken western society as the model for his theory, and has not mentioned about the society with the different social and cultural background. The transformation of the development from these developed nations might not favor the social, cultural and geographical condition of the developing countries. He has not taken into account the cultural, environment, social differences between this developed north and the developing south. He also has mentioned about the countries with the sufficient labor force, natural resources can make the sustained growth. Many countries today seem to follow the random sequence of the stages which confuses that in which stage the state is, and some has skipped the stage to gain the highest economic growth. What I think this theory has the compatibility problem with the other countries and other countries has different constrain for development.

Critical discussion of Shiva’s views on western science as a patriarchal project. Discuss whether you agree with her or not and give reasons.

Shiva vandana, a philosopher, an eco feminist, on her book “Staying Alive” writes about the western development as a patriarchal project. She says development is a post colonial project which is taken as a model by the world for progress without knowing the subjugation and the exploitation the colonization brings (Shiva 1988). She works out on this book from the perspective of eco feminism and has linked the exploitation of woman and nature by the development activities in the name of progress and is reinforcing themself. She has also equated nature with feminism principle and argued women plays crucial role in maintaining of nature. The patriarchal policies are expanding throughout the developing nation inspite feminist movement.

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Development is compared with the economic progress, in terms of need, of produce and of growth, which utilizes patriarchal tools to subjugate countries, cultures, people, and especially women. Development is possible by colonization and colonization helps in capital accumulation. This will not only create wealth but also create poverty and dispossession (Shiva 1988). So the people struggle for the freedom from colonization and development. The dominant stream of science is created by particular group with the particular response. Shiva has traced the creator of modern industrial science, Francis bacon’s experimental science as central to development of masculinities science(Shiva 1988). He dichotomized between male and female as mind and matter, subjective and objective, rational and emotional. Within these differences bacon associated woman with the weaker or more irrational part of these and male were compared as strong, mind and rational. Shiva so thinks that science should be viewed as sexist metaphor not a neutral, objective and science should be viewed as “the masculine mode of aggregation against nature and domination over women” (Shiva 1988). Shiva, with the words of bacon explains science as the form of patriarchal violence against nature and women. Bacons model of modern science conceptualizes the nature and its inquiry as means of rape and torture. The mechanical invention developed by the discipline of science can not only have effect on nature it can have a severe impact on nature and can change the course of nature. “…They have a power to capture and subdue her to shake her foundations.” (Shiva 1988).

What do you understand by Gramsci’s concept of hegemony and counter hegemony? Discuss the idea of hegemony and counter hegemony in the context of globalization.

Gramsci was an Italian political leader of communist party and an activist who was sentenced twenty years imprisonment by the fascist in 1926. He is one who is closely related with the concept of hegemony which in 19th century was defined as “political predominance, usually of one state over another”. But Gramsci, here hegemony means the domination of ruling class over the working class. Hegemony utilizes the legislative and executive power to maintain the ascendance of dominant elite. According to Gramsci, the intellectual first sustain dominant either by creating or popularizing themselves and then convincing the oppressed that they will favor and will not oppose or the subordination of the oppressor. And make them feel that their servitude is inevitable, suitable and just. Like this a social form is obtained with a few people in power and practicing power to keep other in influence of these people the people. Gramsci explains that the hegemony is not intentionally developed by people it was gradually developed by institutionalization and was practiced with the everyday experience. So then by the development of consciousness among the ruling class they then developed hegemonic idea which the masses accepts the existing political situation and the oppression from the ruling class. According to Gramsci, hegemony was popularized by the old traditional intellectuals through their control over the institution as in church, state (Amoore 2005).

The concept of hegemony that Gramsci explains can never be complete because it needs the participation of subordinate group and while implementing, defending and maintaining hegemony there develops intellectual who challenges it (Amoore 2005). There develops another kind of intellectual with a revolutionary thoughts from among the subordinate class. These groups of people gather and convince mass of people to develop a force to against the hegemony. They develop consciousness among the general population who are oppressed and then they are conscious about the oppression from the elite they would revolt against the existing hegemony. They would uproot the existing hegemony and they will create a new environment ruled by the worker. The counter hegemonic ideology developed against the hegemonic of traditional intellectual with the capitalist system will then brought to an end.

Gramsci with his concept of hegemony has provided four main apparatus that are useful for current days for defending Marxism today and also to organize and develop the movement today to fight the crisis today. These four main elements that we can draw with the Gramsci’s concept of hegemony are

Centrality of politics

Hegemony or leadership is always in even or implicitly unstated form is political, this means there should be one to take the leadership and take the position politically to lead the people. And these people in the political leadership should be act responsibly towards the people and the working class of the society. They should be able to provide leadership to the broader aspect of the society.

Necessity of the leadership of the working class movement

Gramsci is aware of that the modern economy is based on the exploitation of the labour. Therefore with the organization of those who involve in the productive labour force then they would be able to organize the genuine transformation of the society.

Necessity for clear political program

This does not only mean to the political programs to oppose the political resistance of the working class but also a positive policies and programs that would give an alternative to the working class people by the ruling class.

Necessity of building concrete institution

This is necessary to expand the capacity available to the members of working class for democratic participation. He is not only simply concern with hegemony led In abstract he is also concern with building the institution enable people to participate in own emancipation.

Amoore, L. (2005). The global resistance reader, Routledge.

Gustafsson, B. (1961). “Rostow, Marx and the Theory of Economic Growth.” Science & Society: 229-244.

Rostow, W. (1960). The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press: 4-7.

Shiva, V. (1988). Staying alive: Women, ecology, and development, Zed books.

Simon, D. (2006). Fifty key thinkers on development, Taylor & Francis.


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