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The modernization paradigm based on monistic multi-linear theory: a response to some comments

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image of Frontiers of History in China

Long before 1979, Chinese historical research had been dominated by the theory of “the Five Modes of Production”, according to which the whole Chinese history as well as the other parts of the world had been developed from the first MOD to the last one by one. The modernization theories prevailed during the 1950s and the 1960s, bringing about another uni-linear model of historical changes. For example, W. W. Rostow designed a five-stage process as a universal frame work of economic development, based on which each society could find its position in this uni-line. The task of the less developed societies is just to introduce modernity from the modernized societies so that they can make some developments. Thus modernization is a uni-direction movement as well as a uni-linear process. After 1979, modernization as a new paradigm has been accepted by an increasing number of Chinese historians. The increasing depth and breadth of the academic researches have encouraged such an acceptance, but, admittedly, as a new conceptual system that corresponded to the historic breakthrough and the new direction towards modernization in China. This acceptance also showed the “crisis of paradigm”, that is, the contradiction between the new themes and the old ones that had dominated Chinese humanities and social sciences. The modernization paradigm based on monistic multi-linear theory considers modernization as a unique breakthrough in history, a great transformation around the whole world, and a historical process that does not have a given ultimate aim and value but different models and routes. The monistic multi-linear theory on historical development is open and all-embracing in historical studies. A variety of historical paradigms is favorable to prosperity of Chinese history.


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