Discuss the ways in which modernization has affected women of differing social status in distinct ways

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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While it can be hard to generalize over all societies, it is typically accurate to say that women of higher social status are helped by modernization while those of lower social status can, at times, be harmed by it.

When a country modernizes, its social structures and values tend to become somewhat less traditional.  This can benefit women, particularly of the higher social statuses.  If, for example, women are now allowed more access to education, it is going to be the women of higher status who have the ability to take advantage of that access.  The same is true if women get more political rights.

By contrast, lower-status women can be harmed by modernization.  Modernization tends to come along with industrialization.  This causes many people to move away from rural areas so they can find work in the factories of the cities.  This move can harm women.  When their families farmed, the women were economically useful.  With the move to industrialization, women tend to become less able to contribute to their families’ incomes.  This, along with the lack of traditional social support structures in the cities, can make life harder for women of lower status in a modernizing society. 

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