James Yushang Lin

Modernization Theory in the Post-Cold War Era

In the 1950s, modernization theory became the driving factor for American foreign policy as a reaction to the beginning of the Cold War. In the decades to follow, modernization theory slowly subsided in popularity, until a recent revival in the 1990s by several prominent American neo-conservatives in response to the presumed victory of the Cold War. This project plans to explore the reasons for the revival of modernization theory and its adoption by the neo-conservatives in the US. In preparing my answer in a 30-50 page paper, I will focus on the primary documents – in support of modernization theory from the 1950s and the 1990s – and place them in the context of the political atmosphere in the US during both periods.

Message to Sponsor

This project provides me with a wonderful opportunity to pursue independent research outside of a course environment without having to worry about financial support or juggling a job or internship at the same time. My post-graduation plans involve pursuing graduate studies, and while the undergraduate curriculum at Berkeley offers research opportunities (such as through a senior thesis), I feel that I would still be limited and dependent. SURF, on the other hand, allows me to explore the graduate experience with more depth. Searching for a faculty mentor, exchanging ideas, and finally forming a solid research proposal require an enormous amount of critical thought and consideration that help form an sense of independence which more closely typifies the graduate school experience.
  • Major: History
  • Mentor: David Hollinger, History