Political Order in Changing Societies

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Political Order in Changing Societies is a 1968 book by Samuel P. Huntington dealing with changes in the political systems and political institutions. Huntington argues that those changes that are caused are by tensions within the political and social system.

Huntington criticizes modernization theory, contending that its argument about economic change and development being the prime factors responsible for the creation of stable, democratic political systems is flawed. Huntington instead focuses on other factors like urbanization, increased literacy, social mobilization, and economic growth. He stresses that those factors are not significantly related to political development; in fact a major part of his argument is that those processes are related but distinct.

Huntington argues that order itself is a crucial objective in developing countries. The existence (or lack) of order should not be confused with the issue of the type of that order (both on political level - democratic, authoritarian, and on economic level - socialist, free-market, etc.)

Huntington makes the argument that while modernity equals stability, modernization is actually a cause for instability, due to urbanization, rising expectations due to literacy, education and the spread of media, etc.

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  • "The most important political distinction among countries concerns not their form of government but their degree of government."
  • "The primary thesis of this book is that [the violence and instability characteristic of the post-WWII era] was in large part the product of rapid social change and the rapid mobilization of new groups into politics coupled with the slow development of political institutions"
  • "The primary problem of politics is the lag in the development of political institutions behind social and economic change"

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