Doctrine of Social Engineering – Meaning & Analysis


In the Sociological school of jurisprudence, Law was considered a social phenomenon as it is an expression of human society that is concerned with the external relation of its members. Roscoe Pound, the most noted American Sociological jurist propounded the theory of social engineering. According to him, an analogy of engineering is applied to social problems. To fulfill the desire of maximum human beings and for sake of the welfare of society, the concept of social engineering was coined by him.

Basis of doctrine of Social Engineering

It is a well-known fact that Laws are created to shape society and regulate the behavior of each human being on whom the law is implemented.

  • For creating a balance in the welfare of society and individuals.
  • It also controls human conduct with the help of Law.

This doctrine rotates between two parts that are – society and human beings.


According to Roscoe Pound, “Law is social engineering which means a balance between the competing interests in society,” in which applied science is used for resolving individual and social problems. (Tripathi)

Analysis of definition

The word social implies ‘group of individuals forming a society’ and Engineering means ‘applied science which involves instruments and devices’. Pound compares the work of Lawyers with engineers because an engineer after so many experiments and experiences through those experiments gives a product likewise a Lawyer also applies science and satisfies the maximum wants of people with minimum resources. This creates a balance between competing interests in society.

Pound’s hypothesis that interest is the principal subject of law and the demonstration of law is the fulfillment of human needs and wants. It is the capacity of law to make a valuation of interest as such to make a choice of socially more significant interest and to make sure about them this isn’t more than an analysis.

According to him, there are three types of Legal interests namely: –

  1. Private Interest
  2. Public Interest
  3. Social Interest

1. Private Interest – Individual interests, as per Pound are claims, or requests, or wants for the person. Individual interests as indicated by Pound incorporates:

  • Personality
    1. The physical person,
    2. Freedom of will,
    3. Honour and reputation,
    4. Privacy and sensibilities,
    5. Belief and opinion
  • Domestic Relation
    1. Parents and Children,
    2. Husbands and Wives &
    3. Marital interests
  • Interest of substance
    1. Interests of property,
    2. Succession and testamentary disposition,
    3. Freedom of industry and contract,
    4. Promised advantages
    5. Advantageous relations with others,
    6. Freedom of association, and
    7. Continuity of employment

2. Public InterestPublic interests as per him are the cases or requests or wants to take a gander at from the stance life in politically coordinated society. The fundamental public interest as indicated by Roscoe pound are:

  • The interest of the state as a juristic Person includes protection– Cases of the politically coordinated society as a partnership to property procured and held for corporate purposes
  • The interest of the state as a guardian of social Interest- in particular administration and organization of trusts, beneficent blessings, insurance of common habitat, regional waters, beaches, a guideline of public business, etc to utilize thing which is available to public use, this interest appear to cover with social interests

3. Social Interest – Social interest all in all ethics includes anticipation and restriction of prostitution, intoxication, betting, and so forth.

  • Social interest in general security– it includes those branches of law which are concerned with :
    1. General safety,
    2. General health,
    3. Peace and order,
    4. Security of acquisitions and
    5. Security of transactions.
  • Social interest in the security of social institutions– it includes security of that institution which are as follows :
    1. General security of domestic institutions,
    2. Religious institutions, political institution and
    3. Economic institutions.
  • Social interest in general morals– Social interest when all is said in done ethics includes avoidance and forbiddance of prostitution, toxication, betting, and so forth. These include subjects related to morality. These have some true essence and comes from the person.
  • Social interest in the conservation of social resources– Social interests in the preservation of social assets covers the preservation of social assets and security and preparing of wards and defectives, for example, preservation of Human Rights, defensive and instruction of wards and defectives, reorganization of deadbeats, insurance of financial wards or one who are economically dependents.
  • Social interest in general progress– Social interest by and large advancement has three viewpoints. Financial advancement, political advancement, and social advancement.
    1. Political progress – all the freedoms which are given under Article 19 of the Indian constitution
    2. Economic progress- It covers those freedoms like freedom of use and sale of the property, free trade, free industry, and encouragement of inventions by the grant of patents.
    3. Cultural progress-This progress covers free science, free letters, encouragements of arts and letters, encouragements of higher education, learning, and aesthetics.
  • Social interest in individual life
      1. Political life
      2. Physical life
      3. Cultural
      4. Social and
      5. Economic life (Dhyani)

Lawyers as social engineers

Lawyers can be very well said as a social engineer. They are the ones who facilitate the change and these changes affect our society. These changes can be large or small but what matters is on whom they are implemented and what effect they are causing to him.

The best example that could be given here would be of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi who was a barrister and who made India victorious in the biggest war. From early occasions of conservatives like Motilal Nehru, Dadabhai Naoroji to radicals C Rajagopalachari, Bal Gangadhar Tilak or “Iron Man” Sardar Patel they all had their disparities in sentiments, considerations, and method of working yet what they all shared for all intents and purpose as they were specialists of ‘law’. If not for the generous and devoted endeavors of these fearless men how we would have won the autonomy we cherish. This was the primary ever-powerful change in Indian culture with a lot more to come.

Their main motive is not to just appear in court and argue on the behalf of their clients rather there are responsibilities entailed with them in favor of their country. Lawyers act as supporters of the Law as they express the true sense of any law such that it benefits the person and secure their rights also. A social engineer is to provide their skills and knowledge to tackle the problems of society and lend legal services to them. Engineer works in his limited scope but a lawyer deals with all aspects of society. His ideas are derived from the present knowledge of society.

Role of legislations in Social Engineering

1. Social legislation can act as a tool for social engineering Social Legislations attempts to eliminate imbalance and benefit the entire network instead of a few individuals. Law is the significant occasion of social recreation. Numerous adjustments in law have achieved an extraordinary arrangement of change in the public arena, for the great, similar to the progressions in:

  1. The Hindu Marriage Act,1955.
  2. The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act,1956.
  3. Land Reform Measures.
  4. Labour Laws.
  5. The Minimum Wages Act,1948.
  6. The Plantation Labour Act,1951
  7. The Maternity Benefit Act,1961. etc

2. Constitutional provisions that promote social harmony Social Legislation is the Legislative Policy of building up social equity on Humanistic and populist standards.

The essential elements of social Legislations are:

(a) To accommodate the systematic guideline of social connections.

(b) To accommodate the government assistance and security of all people in social units. Social enactment targets building up social equity and killing social disparity in the public eye on the grounds of sacred Provisions.

3. Legislation which has the whole sole purpose of social engineering “Right of clean climate”- the privilege of an individual to a pollution-free climate is important for the fundamental law of the land. (case: Vellore residents’ Forum v. Association of India)

The Supreme Court forestalled the communal order by government permitting certain empty posts in government administrations in the fixed extent to Muslims, Christians, Harijans, Backward Hindus, Non-Brahmin Hindus, and Brahmins, expressing it to be an infringement of Article 16(1) on the Indian Constitution. (case: B. Venkatramma v. Province of Madras)

Thus the Court offered the need for Public interest over individual interest. (chaurasiya, n.d.)

Criticism of social engineering

The Roscoe pounds theory of social engineering has several shortcomings:

  1. It has been contended that the grouping of interest by the pound is in the idea of a list where expansion and changes should be made consistently that are unbiased corresponding to esteem and need comparative with impartial worth Pounds hypothesis of social designing has been censured for its utilization of terms, which likens society to a manufacturing plant like component.
  2. Law is a social cycle as opposed to the consequence of applied design. It is likewise wrong to liken society to the production line because the previous is changing and dynamic while the last is pretty much steady.
  3. Again Pound’s accentuation on designing disregards the way that law advances and creates in the public arena as indicated by social requirements and for which either in law endorsement or dismissal may happen.
  4. An overall analysis against pounds hypothesis is about his utilization of word designing since it proposes a system use of hypothesis of social necessities the term designing is utilized by the pound for the analogy to demonstrate the issue that law needs to confront, the goal to be met and strategy one should embrace for this reason. (social engineering by roscoe pound, n.d.)


chaurasia, S. (n.d.). ppt on the role of courts and lawyers as for social engineers. Retrieved from Academia:

Dhyani, S. (n.d.). Fundamentals of Jurisprudence (Third edition ed.). Central Law Agency.

social engineering by roscoe pound. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Tripathi, D. B. (n.d.). Jurisprudence Legal Theory (16th edition ed.). Allahabad Book Agency.

This article has been written by Archita Sharma, 3rd year BA.LLB student at PSIT College Of Law, Kanpur.

Also Read – Meaning And Definitions Of Jurisprudence

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