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Social Planning and Social Intervention

Another keystone of developmental social policy is the insight that social planning is key in achieving and fostering social development. The empirical reality of the world is supporting the idea that governance is most important in guaranteeing
a take-off in economic, social, and cultural development (e.g., Hobhouse, 1924; Hardiman and Midgley, 1982; Falk, 1984; MacPherson and Midgley, 1987; Estes, 1988, 1990, 1993, 2003; Jones, 1990; Chen and Desai, 1997; Mehrotra and Jolly,

1997; Ghai, 2000; Tang, 2000; Gough et al., 2004; Singh and Aspalter, 2008).

No 'invisible hand' can ever fix social problems, nor prevent them. The very principles and logic behind social work intervention of all kinds is the need of intervention and guided social development:

… developmental social policy stresses the need for purposeful interventions that direct the process of change and bring about significant improvements in standards of living. Human agency is, therefore, a key feature of this approach. Developmental social policy scholars believe that social problems must be solved through deliberate, planned human effort. Acting collectively, human being can find effective solutions to the urgent social problem that plague human societies. Therefore, developmental social policy stresses the need for interventions by collective institutions. Collective action at the community and regional level is vital but many believe that developmental social policy is most effective when implemented through the agency of government. This requires that governments be responsive to the needs of people, be committed to raising standards of living for all and when it funds, supports and coordinates development effort at all levels. (Midgley, 2008: 22)

Social work, just like social policy in general, needs the planning of the 'guiding hand' of (a) government agencies at all levels, (b) social work associations, as well as (c) social work movements, (d) major social work agencies, and (e) social work and social policy experts.

Social workers therefore should work with (as agency managers, as professionals) and for the government (as government employees) to achieve the goal of improving people's standard of living through comprehensive preventative and curative social work services for all layers and all corners of society.

The Guiding Principles of Universalism, Equality and Inclusivity

Other leading principles of developmental social policy are 'universalism, equality and inclusivity' (Midgley, 2008: 23–25). Midgley (1995, 1996, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2008) proposes to focus on universal social policies and universal social services. In line with the previous examples I have given above: we may understand 'universalism, equality and inclusivity' as a paradigm that exceeds the realm of universal education and universal health care services, to also include 'truly universal social work services' – not only in terms of coverage of people but also in terms of coverage of services, and in terms of coverage of people's strengths and weaknesses, and this also very early on in their lives.

The aims of social policy are basically threefold:

1. To reduce dis-welfare (suffering, hunger, thirst, death, disease, crime, discrimination, exclusion, homelessness, poverty, etc.);
To increase welfare, that is, people's well-being (increase quality of life, confidence, happiness, skills, knowledge, physical and mental strength, social support networks, cultural and social participation, etc.); and

2. To achieve, strengthen, and maintain overall social development, including social, political, and legal institutions, as well as a large number of economic, social, and cultural development standards.

For social policy, this means to focus on the reduction of dis-welfare, especially in the context of the developing world, particularly for example here in East Asia. Also, we need to prevent problems rather than wait for accidents to happen and diseases to manifest and spread. Social work services are a fundamental aspect of social policy in general, and particularly developmental social policy, which can look back on a long history of program-level focus on policy planning and policy development.

For this reason it is necessary to create a new space for 'preventative social work services' for the entire community, with the support of the entirety of social services available, throughout the entirety of people's lifetime.

In the following, I will show new areas and new ideas of how to expand the umbrella of social work services, from a mostly responsive force for social change to a comprehensive, all-encompassing engine that drives, rather than passively responds to, social development, in today's increasingly complex world of everyday life in a post-industrial, soon super-aged, and already heavily globalized societal setting.

 
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