It is not surprising that an uncritical acceptance of modernization theory influenced this study conceived in the United States over a decade ago, but it is disturbing that the principal investigators proved so unwilling to modify their thought in the light of the often anomalous results of their own research, failed to creatively respond to the suggestions of their Colombian collaborators, and remained oblivious to major trends in the literature on development. The bulk of the volume reports the quantitative results of an attitudinal survey administered to a cross section of leaders and high school students in three western Colombian cities. The cities, Medellín, Cali and Popayán, were chosen to represent different degrees of “modernity.” The value orientations of the respondents were determined by the degree to which their responses approximated those of Florence Kluckhohn’s ideal modern man, an individualistic, future-oriented doer confident in man’s ability to control nature. While the study is built on the shaky assumption (pp. 80-81, 91) that “modern” values cause economic development, it only succeeds, not without difficulty, in establishing something of a correlation between the two. Time and time again the authors confront major anomalies (results they finally call defraudadores and desconcertantes), but the only investigator disposed to probe beyond the statistical results of the survey to explore structural conditions influencing the responses is Sister L. E. Straub. Unfortunately, her sensitive study of the value orientations of teenage girls in a poor barrio of Cali appears not to have affected the main project. Careful consideration of the anomalies (for example the drastic decline in the “modernity” of recent high school graduates discussed on p. 126) might have led the investigators to reverse the direction of the hypothesized causality between modern values and development.
The Colombian collaborators early suggested that the study be broadened to include the historical, economic and social factors affecting development. (In fact, the tension generated by a continuing concern with these issues and a familiarity with dependency literature is manifest in the tortuous introductory essay by Ocampo.) But these suggestions were accommodated rather than integrated into the analysis. The best of these separate studies is an essay by Doris Eder de Zambrano on the recent history of the Valle del Cauca. It contains more suggestive insight into the nature of the process of development in the region than all the “hard” data manipulated in the main study.
Space limitations prohibit detailed criticism of certain mechanical issues, but it would seem that the decision to survey more (the authors disagree on how many more) industrialists in Medellín and Cali than in Popayán biases the sample in favor of the modernity of the former. The problems of meaningfully translating English social science terms into Spanish are struggled with bravely, but the idiomatic “get up and go” apparently fares no better than “levantarse e ir” (p. 210). The lofty aims and good intentions of this effort in collaborative, cross-cultural research funded by the Rockefeller Foundation are commendable, but the way in which a rigid, mechanical application of United States’ social science concepts serves to distort its Colombian subject matter can only elicit dismay.