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History of Social Planning in Late Colonial and Postcolonial Societies

This article introduces a special section on the histories of social planning in postcolonial and late colonial societies.

It argues that the global roots of planning discourses should be taken seriously.

It discusses the field of planning, the historiographical debates surrounding the concept, largely centered on European and US history, and checks its viability for postcolonial and late colonial contexts.

Ultimately, it shows how planning discourses in recently decolonized societies converged with those in other parts of the world, demonstrating the global reach of planning discourses.

Participatory social planning

Participatory social planning is a collaborative, participatory approach to creating social policies and interventions.

It emphasizes the social dimension of policymaking by involving groups of citizens to understand their lifeworlds and experiences.

This method has contributed to the growth of knowledge, practice, and repertoires of policy makers and professionals.

Involving community members in the planning process can lead to increased respect and support.

It teaches policymakers how to listen to their constituents and to develop policies that meet their needs.

It can also foster partnerships and relationships between diverse groups.

These relationships strengthen community building and contribute to institutionalizing changes to policy.

It also helps energize community members to affect change in positive directions.

Ideologies of social planning

Social planning has taken on a variety of forms. Many of the theories are based on the concept of progress, equality, and welfare.

The concepts are related to the broad trend of modern life toward industrialization and technical rationality.

The two major schools of thought differ in their conception of what social planning is and how it works.

In the most basic form, social planning aims to regulate and balance births and deaths.

In fact, the world population is projected to reach saturation levels within three to five generations.

The goal of resource planning, which has tended to take population growth as a given, must be linked to social planning in order to meet future needs.

Harrison S. Brown’s book, The Challenge of Man’s Future, published by Viking in 1956, argued that social planning was essential for ensuring that births and deaths were balanced.

Problems of social planning

Social planning is the process of designing social policy and implementing them in an attempt to achieve the desired outcomes.

Social planners study social trends, population movement, and urbanization.

Yet, they are not able to prevent the internal migration or demographic growth that is inherent to human societies.

In order to achieve their desired results, social planners must look beyond economic considerations.

Social planners have to build consensus to carry out ambitious plans.

However, this can create political religion when an emergency situation arises.

On the other hand, a successful plan can help to relax political religion.

There are two theories of social planning, the “total” theory and the “piecemeal” theory.