An Analysis of the Role of Communication, Education and Occupational Experience in the Process of Modernization in Developing Countries: With Special Reference to India and Bangladesh

Goonasekera, Sriyawansa Anurakumara

     Using data for India and Bangladesh from Inkeles and Smiths' study Becoming Modern: Individual Change in Six Developing Countries, this dissertation examines the role of education, communication and modern occupational experience in the process of modernization. Initially four attitudinal and behavioural attributes of modernity were identified. These were, worldliness, new experiences, higher aspirations and the propensity to plan. Items that tap these attributes were then selected from Inkeles and Smiths' OM questionnaire and factor analysed. This factor analysis revealed that modernity was not a unidimensional phenomena. It did show clustering of items around the four dimensions of modernity, which were the dependent variables. The independent variables were education, communication and modern occupational experience. Inclusion of four additional explanatory variables viz. urban residence, income, age and living standards did not improve the explanatory power of the model.
     Analysis of the impact of the independent variables on the four attributes of modernity showed education to be the principal predictor in both countries. While education had significant associations with all four dimensions of modernity, the strongest association was between education and worldliness. It is argued that what education does in the process of modernization is perhaps not so much to create specific attitudes such as higher aspirations and the propensity to plan (attitudinal effects) but to widen one's horizons through the infusion of information and knowledge of a worldliness sort (cognitive effects) and thereby make one available and ready to work within larger and more impersonal settings.
     The analysis also showed that the relationship of modern factory experience with the four dimensions of modernity to be rather modest. Regarding the role of communication, when communication was defined to include both mass media and interpersonal channels, its associations with the four dimensions of modernity was weak. When only mass media was considered it had relatively higher associations thereby implying that it is not only the quantum of exposure that is important but also the source of such communication. Nor did exposure to mass media or modern factory experience appear to compensate for weak education in childhood as is sometimes implied in the literature.