Technology is a major driving force behind the process of modernization. As a result of rapid developments in technology, society has become more complex, less monolithic, with differentiated structures, a hallmark of modernization.
In pre-modern societies, where technology was in a rudimentary state, stratification—that is to say, the division of society according to socioeconomic factors such as wealth, race, and social class—was pretty rigid. As such, individuals tended to carry the social identities with which they were born right throughout the rest of their lives.
However, in technologically-advanced societies, stratification is a good deal more complex, with people generally finding it a lot easier—though still by no means easy—to move between different classes and income brackets. Primarily, this is because technology demands skills and aptitudes that aren't necessarily related to traditional social identities. In theory, the operation of a complex computer system, for example, shouldn't depend on factors such as race, gender, or social class.
The loosening of traditional social bonds is undoubtedly one of the most significant effects of modernization. When we speak of modern societies, as opposed to pre-modern societies, we generally mean those societies with a much looser, more fluid structure, which is less influenced by traditional institutions of socialization, such as the family and organized religions.
One main cause and effect of modernization is violence. It seems hard to detach progress, advancement, or modernization from brutality and death. You might think about how the United States's advances can't be separated from its genocidal policies against Indigenous people or its system of kidnapping and enslaving Black people.
The violence that caused the United States to become the main symbol of a modern, state-of-the-art nation has produced further violence. You could consider how the United States has used modernization as a justification for more war and violence. You might check out how American politicians and pundits cite the Middle East’s alleged lack of modernization as a way to account for the violent, deadly policies in the region.
A second, non-violent cause and effect of modernization might be technology and acceptance. You could talk about how technology helps people who belong to identities that are often ostracized and demonized find support and community. You might discuss the ways in which the internet—a product of modernization—has produced support networks for historically marginalized people.
Lastly, you could also think about how modernization causes and effects a desire to revert back to a less modern time. You might talk about how modernization has not brought progress, advancement, and prosperity to everyone. This sharp inequality could cause people to embrace dangerous, hateful, or “backwards” ideologies.
In order to answer this, we must first understand what modernization is. Modernization, in social sciences terminology, is the process by which a country moves from having a traditional, agrarian, rural society to having a more secular, urbanized, industrialized (or even post-industrial) society. When this happens, the country changes in many ways. It changes in terms of its values and beliefs, moving from traditional beliefs to more scientific and secular beliefs. It changes in its geography, with its population become more and more urban. It changes economically, moving from subsistence farming or something close to it to an economy in which hardly anyone farms and the country makes its money producing goods and services.
There are at least two major and related causes of modernization. One is the growth in science that came along (in Europe) with the Enlightenment. The other is the growth in available technology. When a country is pre-modern, its people generally do not believe in science. They hold traditional beliefs that typically hold that life is affected by supernatural forces. They do not believe that life can change in any major ways. In the Enlightenment, people came to challenge this idea. They came to believe that life is affected by forces that are understandable via science. For example, they came to believe that disease is caused by microorganisms, not by demons. Once they had this outlook, they came to believe that life could be improved. Science could change the way we live, making us (for example) less afraid of disease or of other natural calamities.
Science, of course, helps people to develop technology. Technology pushes modernization along. Technology allows farmers to grow more food, freeing people to go live in cities. Technology allows factories to arise, thus giving the new city dwellers jobs. Technology also improves life, giving us things to do for entertainment, things that can improve our health, and many other beneficial innovations. These things lead our society to become more modernized.
Modernization has its good and bad points. On the good side, modernization improves our lives in many tangible ways. It is certainly safer to live in a world in which we have doctors who can cure infections and in which women are not very likely to die in childbirth. It is more convenient to live in a world where we have access to many material goods to make our lives more comfortable and more fun. Modernization also helps people who are oppressed in traditional society. Modernization allows women to have more opportunities. It helps to liberate oppressed minority groups. In these ways, modernization seems like a very positive thing.
On the other hand, it is possible to argue that modernization has negative effects. One negative effect is on our environment. Modernization brings technology that consumes energy and leads to such things as air pollution and climate change. Another negative effect is (arguably) on our society. Modernization breaks up the social ties that bound people together in traditional societies. It makes it so that people no longer feel as connected to one another. This can lead to such problems as crime and the break-up of family groups.
Thus, modernization has clear causes and it has effects that can be positive and negative.