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NYTimes.com Article: Marion Levy Jr., Authority on the Modernization of Societies, Dies at 83

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      Marion Levy Jr., Authority on the Modernization of Societies, Dies at 83

      June 17, 2002
      By ERIC PACE

      Marion J. Levy Jr., a scholar of sociology and
      international affairs who wrote about modernization theory,
      which seeks to explain why some societies undergo rapid
      economic development and corresponding social change, died
      on May 26 in Princeton, N.J., where he lived. He was 83.

      The cause was complications from Parkinson's disease,
      according to Princeton University.

      Dr. Levy retired in 1989 as Musgrave Professor of Sociology
      and International Affairs at Princeton. He had taught there
      since 1947 and was chairman of its department of East Asian
      studies for a time.

      He once said that "the fundamental problem posed by
      modernization is whether human animals can adjust as
      readily to longevity, affluence, and peace as they have in
      the past to shortgevity, poverty, and war." He predicted
      that life in a modernized world "is likely to become
      crowded, affluent, nasty, brutish and long."

      His writings include the book "Modernization: Latecomers
      and Survivors" (1972), and the two-volume work
      "Modernization and the Structure of Societies" (1966),
      which examined the differences between societies that were
      relatively nonmodernized and those that were relatively
      modernized. He carried out innovative scholarship about why
      Japan, not China, was in the vanguard of modernization in
      Asia, concluding that while many assumed the two countries
      were similar when they were first opened to Western
      influence, in reality the similarities were only

      Marion Joseph Levy was born and raised in Galveston, Tex.,
      was a Navy lieutenant in Asia in World War II and received
      a doctorate in sociology from Harvard.

      He is survived by his wife, Joy; a daughter, Dore J. Levy
      of Providence, R.I., who is a professor of comparative
      literature and East Asian studies at Brown; two sons, Noah,
      of Atlanta, and Amos, of Manhattan; five grandchildren; and
      a sister, Ruth Levy Kempner of Galveston.


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