The modernization framework as a means of justification: The case of medical biotechnology development strategies
Department of Social Research University of Tampere Tampere, Finland
The modernization framework as a means of justification: the case of medical biotechnology development strategies
Even if modernization theory is not so popular among the contemporary sociologists, it seems that many fundamental assumptions of earlier sociological discourse of modernization are still embedded in everyday thinking. The positive images associated with modernity are still guiding all kinds of reforms throughout the world. Economic development and advancement of human rights, for example, are understood as unavoidable prerequisites for modernization. Especially in respect of technological progress, nation-states are assumed to be destined to follow an evolutionary developmental path, which is understood as the only way to guarantee the well-being of their population. Because nation-states aspire to be modern, they engage themselves with reforms that are guided by the optimistic expectations about new technologies. The most part of the hype connected to the cutting-edge sciences and technologies associates now with life-sciences and biotechnology. In fact, it could be said that investing to development of biotechnology has begun to symbolize nation-state's will to be dynamic, progressive and modernizing.
The aim of the study is to find out how this modernization framework is used in justification of reforms which are directed for intensifying the development and utilization of medical applications of biotechnology. Data to be analyzed consists of biotechnology strategies and other documents relating to projects and policies that are aimed to boost medical biotechnology. The modernization framework will be interpreted from two theoretical standpoints. Firstly, Michel Foucault's governmentality approach is employed because it emphasizes the role of desires and hopes (of progress and modernization, for example) and the way they have been exploited and shaped in attempts to govern. Secondly, the modernization framework is interpreted from the point of view of world polity theory. Modernization is thought in terms of world cultural models. It is argued in this study that the modernization framework plays an important role in the process in which reforms connected to new technologies are carried out in nation-states.