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Social Evolution, Economic Development and Culture

Social Evolution, Economic Development and Culture

What it Means to Take Japan Seriously

Ronald Dore and D. Hugh Whittaker

Social Evolution, Economic Development and Culture brings together Ronald Dore’s key writings for the first time, making his work accessible across a wide range of social science disciplines. It produces a distinctive perspective with four interlinking themes – technology-driven social evolution, late development, culture and polemics. These are highly topical in the current context of rapid technological innovation and socio-economic change, globalization and accompanying policy choices.

Chapter 5: Education and jobs: stages of development*

Ronald Dore and D. Hugh Whittaker

Subjects: asian studies, asian development, asian economics, development studies, asian development, economics and finance, asian economics, evolutionary economics


Elaborating theories of social evolution - series of ‘stages’ through which all societies are supposed to ‘evolve’ - was a favourite pursuit of nineteenthcentury sociologists. Such theories are out of favour these days. They are associated with ‘the idea of progress’ which our nineteenth-century ancestors believed in, but which we are supposed to be too sophisticated to have any truck with. Nevertheless, schematizations of historical stages can be useful. The one that follows [and is shown in Table 5.1] is not intended to be universal, to indicate the pattern which all societies follow. As we shall see later, the salient characteristic of late developing societies is precisely that they do not go through all these stages. But in the more slowly developing societies of Europe a similar path of development can be traced. The periods are meant to be the periods when certain patterns first appeared or became dominant, not periods to which they are confined. The fundamental point about this scheme is this: you cannot understand the way education for work changes without understanding changes in the way work itself is organized. The two sets of changes interact with each other, and one can even make out a good case for saying that the changes of work organization are ‘primary’, i.e. changes in that field more often cause changes in education than the other way round. For a pure form of the first type of society, look at this account of how the jajmani (or jejemani) system used to...

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