Why Does Social Planning Fail?

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Preceding theories of social planning couldn't adequately analyse the mechanisms of failure of social planning. They couldn't do so because they didn't pay attention to a theoretical hypothesis that social system depends on theories or knowledges of ordinary actors which we call first-order theories. Therefore they couldn't adequately deal with the case that execution of social planning changes first-order theories. In this paper, we set up first-order theories of planning actor, first-order theories of ordinary actors, and social mechanisms as components of the model for analysis. First-order theories of planning actor deal with the relationship between policies and results. Social mechanisms are real relationship between them. And we set up two assumptions. One is that execution of social planning changes first-order theories of ordinary actors and the other is that the change of first-order theories of ordinary actors changes social mechanisms. We get six cases when we combine verifying/falsifying of these assumptions with correspondence/discrepancy between first-order theories of planning actor and social mechanisms. Three cases of them are cases of failure of social planning and remainings are cases of success. We analyse the mechanisms of failure and success of social planning through these cases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-52
Number of pages14
JournalSociological Theory and Methods
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1989 Jan 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Double Hermeneutics
  • Social Planning
  • Unintended Consequences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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