Social engineering

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Social engineering is a discipline in social science that refers to efforts to influence particular attitudes and social behaviors on a large scale, whether by governments, media or private groups in order to produce desired characteristics in a target population.

Quotes[edit]

  • Administration is both social engineering and applied psychology. It is apparatus and mechanics, incentives and human nature. Let no one think it is merely the former. Nowhere is the need for psychology greater than in the organization, direction, and inspiration of men working in large groups. Outstanding administrative results are produced by spirit, morale, atmosphere; these, in turn, are the product of psychological mainsprings and invigorating incentives. As Benjamin Lippincott has recognized, both governmental and business administration resolve fundamentally into the role played by effective incentives.
    • Marshall E. Dimock, "The Study of Administration." American Political Science Review 31.01 (1937): p. 30
  • I don't think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering. I don't think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate. I think we need a national conversation to get to a better Medicare system with more choices for seniors.
  • The research needed for social practice can best be characterized as research for social management or social engineering. It is a type of action research, a comparative research of the conditions and effects of various forms of social action, and research leading to social action.
    • Kurt Lewin (1946) "Action research and minority problems". J Soc. Issues 2(4): p. 35.
  • Regarding social order, Fukuyama writes, "The systematic study of how order, and thus social capital, can emerge in spontaneous and decentralized fashion is one of the most important intellectual developments of the late twentieth century." He correctly attributes the modern origins of this argument to F.A. Hayek, whose pioneering contributions to cognitive science, the study of cultural evolution, and the dynamics of social change put him in the forefront of the most creative scholars of the 20th century. But Hayek's views about the "spontaneity" of social order remain controversial. In their extreme form, they imply that all deliberate efforts to manipulate social order — social engineering — are doomed to failure because the complex nature of our cultural heritage makes a complete understanding of the human condition impossible.
  • Conservatives believe in individual freedom and responsibility. Liberals believe in sacrificing individual freedom for socially desirable outcomes. Liberals believe that one of government's primary roles is social engineering.
    • Mike Rosen. Rocky Mountain News column, March 31, 2000

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