Social policy and social development
Social policies may be thought of as clusters of rules or as institutionalized guiding principles maintaining a social order. These rules and principles evolved throughout the history of human groups. They reflect choices and decisions made by successive generations striving to satisfy basic biological and emerging social and psychological needs as they pursued survival in the context of relative scarcities. Social policies reflect stages in human evolution beyond total dependence on instinctual dynamics and randomness in human behavior and relations. They represent significant steps beyond the trial-and-error stage of the struggle for survival. Social policies are products of the human capacity to reflect on experience and reality and on the existential imperatives encountered by all human groups, to devise systematic answers to these imperatives, and to pass these answers on from generation to generation. Eventually, social policies evolved into patterns or blueprints for societal existence, organization, and continuity.
With time, social policies, like other products of the human mind which are transmitted among generations and experienced in the course of socialization as social reality, tended to take on a life and dynamics of their own, and to exist independently of the humans whose choices created them. Consequently, social policies confront subsequent generations as powerful forces that shape life and reality and that act as constraining influences on the development of new approaches to the solution of existential problems. Theii sources are no longer remembered, and the more independence they acquire with time, the more resistant to change they are likely to become. Frequently, they are not even identified as social policies but are referred to as “customs,” and “traditions.” Quite ofen, also, they are viewed as “laws of nature,” as eternal and inevitable and not subject to critique and change by a present generation.
Yet humans in any generation ought to realize that behind any particular set of social policies are human choices at certain stages of history, choices which produced one possible model for organizing human existence and survival based on insights and knowledge available at the time. The choices made, and the patterns resulting from them may not have been the best possible answers even at the time they were made, nor are the) necssarily the best pattern for sub-sequent generations including the present one. Hence, optimally, each generation should claim its right and responsibility to reexamine transmitted social policies in the light of present circumstances and knowledge, and in relation to currently held values which may differ from the value premises underlying past choices.
Based on the conceptions of social policies and of social-policyrelevant value dimensions presented here, social development may be thought of as a specific configuration of social policies, chosen consciously by a population in accordance with egalitarian, cooperative, and collectivity-oriented value premises, aimed at enhancing systematically.
social development involves philosophical, biological, ecological, psychological, social, economic, and political dimensions. In contradistinction to conventional, yet by now outdated, notions of economic growth and development, the central criterion for evaluating social development is evenly shared, balanced progress of the entire population of a region, or of the globe, towards enhanced collective, segmental, and individual wellbeing. Genuine social development seems, therefore, predicated upon the conscious acceptance, and systematic implementation, of a configuration of developmental, allocative, and distributive social policies, the interaction and combined effects of which would be conducive to the comprehensive objectives specified here.`
Social Policies for Social Development
First among social policy clusters essential for social development is the identification, selection, and development of an appro- priate range and mix of resources, sufficient in quantity and suitable in quality, to satisfy the basic biological and the social and psychological needs of the entire population. Policies for resource selection and development should preclude greedy, exploitative relations to the habitat of a population, as well as all forms of waste and destruction of real wealth which consists of land, water, wildlife, vegetation, natural raw materials, humans and human products. Such policies would involve effective measures for conservation and recycling of the natural resource basis of life while deriving sustenance from that base. Related to these policies would also be measures aimed at achieving and maintaining a dynamic balance of natural resources, the prevailing scientific and technological capacity to produce life-sustaining and enhancing goods from these resources, and the size of the population.
social development is predicated upon policies conducive to effective and efficient organization of productive processes for the transformation of natural resources by means of human creativity and labor into the goods and services required to sustain and enhance the life of the population. Policies organizing the productive processes include also policies dealing with the education and preparation of society’s “human capital,” the release and development of the available creative physical and intcllectual potential of people of all ages. Policies in this domain must also deal with the conservation, maintenance, and renewal of means of production, and with the allocation and investment of huma, resources and capital to the various branches of production. There is also wced for policies concerning tile size and location of productive units, the scope of production in various branches and units, the manner in which production and production units are controlled, and production decisions are made by those working in the units and by various local, regional, and transregional groups and institutions. Finally, in this domain, policies are needed to facilitate cooperation, coordination, integration, exchange, and joint planning among the separate production units, branches of production, the aggregate productive enterprise in a region, and units, branches, and aggregate economies in other regions all over the globe.
Since, by definition, social development is concerned with enhancing qualitative aspects of human existence, as much as it is concerned with quantitative aspects of production, it is predicated also on policies resulting in a division of labor that is cooperative rather than competitive, psychologically enriching rather than alienating, non-exploitative, flexible, and fair. Such a division of labor would also involve equal recognition and equal rewards for every type of work, and whenever feasible, rotation of workers among roles which differ in intrinsic rewards. Finally, such a division of labor would involve equal rights for all to participate in the productive enterprise of society, and hence would eliminate the absurdity, so prevalent in competitive, profit-motivated societies, of unemployment of workers, land, and plants while human needs remain unmet, and production is out of step with these needs.