social engineering

This article is written by Shubham Kumar, a student of Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, on social engineering.


 The relation between the individual, society and the State have been changing and various theories regarding them have been propounded from time to time. In the beginning, society was governed by customs which had only social sanction. Then came the supremacy of the priests. After that, the secular state emerged and dominated all the institutions. As a reaction, the importance of individual was asserted by thinkers and philosophers. There were revolutions and political changes. The necessity of balancing the welfare of the society and individual was realized.[1]

       Society and human life always go together. From childhood to till old age, every human being expects that his or her desire is to be fulfilled for which their arise conflict of desires or claims which comes under the term “interest”. It is impossible to fulfill all the desires of a human being. So to fulfill the desires of maximum human being for the welfare of society the concept of Social Engineering was emerged and which was coined by Roscoe Pound. Social engineering is based on the theory that laws are created to shape the society and regulate the people’s behavior. It is an attempt to control the human conduct through the help of Law.

      According to Pound, “Law is social engineering which means a balance between the competing interests in society,” in which applied science are used for resolving individual and social problems.[2]

For the purpose of maintaining the legal framework and its proper functioning, certain interest needs to be considered like individual interests, public and social interests, a definition of limits within which such interests will be recognized and given effect to, and the securing of those interest within the limits as defined.

When determining the scope and subject matter of the system, the following things have to be done:

  • Preparation of an inventory of interests, classifying them,
  • Selection of the interests which should be legally recognized,
  • Demarcation of the limits of securing the interests so selected,
  • Consideration of the means whereby laws might secure the interests when those have been acknowledged and delimited, and
  • Evolution of the principles of valuation of interests. [3]

Theory of Social Engineering

Pound compared the task of the lawyer to the engineers. He stated that the aim of social engineering is to build a structure of society as possible which requires the fulfillment or satisfaction of maximum wants with minimum usage of resources. It involves the balancing of competing interests. He called this theory as the theory of “Social Engineering.”

Here Pound has used two words i.e. “Social” which means group of individual forming a society. The second word is “Engineering” which means applied science carried out by engineers to produce finished products, based on continuous experimentation and experience to get the finished product by means of an instrument or device.

For facilitating the tasks of social engineering, Pound classified various interests to be protected by law in three heads:

  1. Private Interests / Individual Interest– Individual interests, according to Pound are claims, or demands or desires from the point of the individual. Individual interests according to Pound includes:

a. Personality- interest of personality consist of interests in –

  • The physical person,
  • Freedom of will,
  • Honour and reputation,
  • Privacy and sensibilities,
  • Belief and opinion.

b. Domestic relations – it is important to distinguish between the interest of individuals in domestic relationships and that of society in such institutions as family and marriage. Individual interests include those of :

  • Parents and Children,
  • Husbands and Wives &
  • Marital interests.

c. Interest of substance- this includes

  • Interests of property,
  • Succession and testamentary disposition,
  • Freedom of industry and contract,
  • Promised advantages
  • Advantageous relations with others,
  • Freedom of association, and
  • Continuity of employment

2.  Public Interest– Public interests according to him are the claims or demands or desires looked at from the stand point life in politically organized society. The main public interest according to Roscoe pound are :

a. Interests of state as a juristic person which includes

Interests of state as a juristic person i.e. protection

Claims of the politically organized society as a corporation to property acquired and held  for corporate purposes.

b. Interests of State as a guardian of social interest, namely superintendence and  administration of trusts, charitable endowments, protection of natural environment, territorial waters, sea-shores, regulation of public employment and so on to make use of  thing which are open to public use , this interest seem to overlap with social interests.

3. Social Interest : Social interests are the claim or demands or desires thought of in terms of social life and generalized as claims of social groups. Social interests are said to include :

a. Social interest in general security -Social interest in the general security embraces those branches of the law which relate to

  • General safety,
  • General health,
  • Peace and order,
  • Security of acquisitions and
  • Security of transactions.

b. Social interest in the security of social institutions- Social interest in the security of the social institutions include

  • General security of domestic institutions,
  • Religious institutions, political institution and
  • Economic institutions.

c. Social interest in general morals – Social interest in general morals comprises of prevention and prohibition of prostitution, drunkenness, gambling, etc.

d. Social interest in conservation of social resources- Social interests in the conservation of social resources covers conservation of social resources and protection and training of dependents and defectives, i.e. , conservation of human resources, protective and education of dependents and defectives, reformation of delinquents, protection of economically dependents.

e. Social interest in general progress – Social interest in general progress has three aspects. Economic progress, political progress and cultural progress.

  1. Political progress covers free speech and free association, free opinion, free criticisms.
  2. Economic progress covers freedom of use and sale of properly , free, trade , free industry and encouragement of inventions by the grant of patents.
  3. Cultural progress covers free science, free letters, encouragements of arts and letters, encouragements of higher  education an learning and aesthetics

f. Social interest in individual life.- Meaning thereby each individual be able to live a human life according to the individual’s

  1. Political life
  2. Physical life
  3. Cultural
  4. Social and
  5. Economic life.[4]

Jural Postulates Of  Roscoe Pound 

      In order to evaluate the conflicting interests in due order of priority, pound suggested that every society has certain basic assumption upon which its ordering rests, through for most of the time they may be implicit rather than expressly formulated. This assumption may be called as jural postulates of the legal system of that society.

Pound has mentioned five jural postulates as follows-

  1. Jural postulate I– in civilised society men must be able to assume that others will commit no intentional aggression upon them.
  2. Jural postulate II– in civilised society men must be able to assume that  they may control for beneficial purposes what  they have  discovered and appropriated to their own use, what they have created by their own labour and what they  have created by their own labour and what they  have acquired under the existing social and economic order.
  3. Jural postulate III – In a civilized society men must be able to assume that those with whom they deal as a member of the society will act in good faith and hence-
  4. Will make good reasonable expectations which their promises or other conduct reasonably create;
  5. Will carry out their undertaking according to the expectations which the moral sentiment of the community attaches thereto.
  6. Will restore specifically or by equivalent what comes to them by mistake, or failure of the pre-suppositions of a transaction, or other unanticipated situation whereby they receive at other’s expense what they could not reasonably have expected to receive under the actual circumstances.
  7. Jural postulate IV– in civilized society men must be able to assume that those who engage in some course of conduct will act with due care not to cast an unreasonable risk of injury upon others.
  8. Jural postulate V-in a civilized society men must be able to assume that others who maintain things or employ agencies, harmless in the sphere of their use but harmful in their normal action elsewhere, and having a natural tendency to cross the boundaries of their proper use will restrain them and keep them within their proper bounds.

     Pounds confessed that these jural postulates are not absolute but they have relative value. These are ideal standards which law should   pursue in society they are of a changing nature and new postulates may emerge if the changes in society so warrant. Thus the jural postulates by Roscoe pound provide guidelines for civilized life and they also seek to strike a balance between reality and idealism as also power and social accountability of men in the community.


    It is concluded that law plays an important role in adjusting conflict of interests. Both the social interest and individual interest co-exist. Both of them have equal priority. Roscoe Pound has given the idea of Social Engineering for the American Society but this concept is followed universally for dispute resolution. India also followed the same concept in establishing a societal welfare. Both Judiciary and Legislators play an important role in enacting the statutes which fulfill the various desires of human being. In this techsavvy society desires of human being grows and to fulfill their desires new policies, strategy has been developed.


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[1] V.D.MAHAJAN,JURISPRUDENCE AND LEGAL THEORY,5th ed reprint 2006,Eastern book company, 605,para1

[2] Dr. B N Mani Tripathi,Jurisprudence Legal Theory,16th ed.,Allahabad Book Agency,pg.49,para 1

[3] Supra note 1, at pg. 634

[4] SN Dhyani, Fundamentals of Jurisprudence, Third edition,Central Law Agency,pg.335


  1. I’m puzzled as to why in the language used in the mural postulates, the word man is used repeatedly and no reference to woman is given. Why not use human being, or men and women instead? Is the assumption that man inherently incorporates all mankind?

  2. Dear Shubhamsir,
    . firstly I thanking to u, this is very useful articles to us, because social engineering is very vast & practical topic of study. It’s explanation clear conception in necessary to law students. Really regrets to u. This article shows ur scholarness, plz keep continue to writing & inform me, it will so helpful in my llm PG course.

  3. your points are very much intresting. how can i be in touch with u so that i can ask any question whenever i want


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