Toward Social Hope

Toward Social Hope

Toward Social Hope

Toward Social Hope

Excerpt

As the title suggests, this is a moderately cheerful book. It began several years ago as an inquiry into the perfectibility of social institutions that covered a good deal of ground without making much progress. Slowly it dawned on me that although perfect social institutions are not possible or even desirable, a greatly improved society might be within our present grasp if projects of social improvement were undertaken in a more rational way.

In the following pages, I shall try to show that deliberate social change is easier to bring about than most people suppose, and that we already have most of the theoretical knowledge required for a competent social technology. But as we review the major projects of social improvement that have been undertaken in this country in recent years, we shall have to recognize that many of them were so poorly designed that they could not have achieved their stated goals under any conceivable circumstances.

The important question is whether the American style of social reform can be changed enough to make a difference; whether, in effect, the project of improving social improvement is feasible. I think it is. This book is presented in the hope that its proposals will be heeded by social reformers, and it is respectfully dedicated to them and to their success.

I am grateful to Philip Elsworth Allen, Howard M. Bahr, Jacques Barzun, Robert M. Bierstedt, Christine Caplow, David A. Shannon . . .

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