The concept of modernization exerted a powerful influence over international affairs in the twentieth century. It offered not only a way of understanding the profound global transformations of the period but also a means of influencing the course and pace of those changes. While the preoccupation with the causes and consequences of modernity can be traced back at least to the nineteenth century, .modernization. as a school of thought and a set of practices is usually understood to be a decidedly post–World War II phenomenon. Many scholars have interpreted the rise of modernization as a response to the imperatives of the Cold War and the great postwar wave of decolonization, and have therefore located the origins of this concept in the years after 1945.