In this article, we will discuss the theory of social engineering propounded by the jurist Roscoe Pound, and also discuss its interest theory and its criticism. Let’s begin.
Man is a social animal and society is needed to live life, work and enjoy life. A group of individuals forms a society. Society has become an indispensable condition for human life to develop its personality. Therefore, society and human life always go hand in hand. Every human being is also born with certain desires and expectations which are inherent in nature. From childhood to old age, every human being expects his wish to be fulfilled, for which a conflict of his desires or claims arises, which falls under the term of interest. It is impossible to fulfill all the desires of man. Hence the concept of social engineering has come up to fulfill the desire of maximum human beings for the welfare of society and which was formulated by Roscoe Pound.
The Concept of Social Engineering:-
Roscoe Pound was one of the greatest leaders of the sociological school of jurisprudence. He introduced the doctrine of “social engineering” which aims to build an efficient structure of society resulting in the satisfaction of maximum wants with the minimum of friction and waste. This involved a rebalancing of competing interests.
According to Pound, sociological jurisprudence should ensure that lawmaking, interpreting and applying law take account of social facts. Pound linked the lawyer’s work to engineering. The purpose of social engineering is to build as much of a scientific structure of society as possible, which requires the satisfaction of the maximum of wants and with the minimum of friction and waste. It is the job of a jurist to assist the country by identifying and classifying interests that are protected by law.
Roscoe Pound’s social engineering theory is an American correlation to the interests of German jurisprudence. Roscoe Pound described the work of modern law as social engineering. Social engineering refers to the balance of competing interests in society. He observed: “Law is the body of knowledge and experience with the aid of which a large part of social engineering is carried on. It is more than the body of rules. It has conceptions and standards for conduct and for the decision, but it has also doctrines and modes of professional thought and professional rules of art by which the precepts for conduct and decision are applied and given effect. Like an engineer’s formulae, they represent experience, scientific formulations of experience and logical development of the formulations, but also inventive skill in conceiving new devices and formulating their requirements by means of a developed technique.”
Jurisprudence thus becomes a science of social engineering which means a balance between competing interests in society. Pound assigns the jurist with a commission. He follows a method that a jurist would follow for social engineering. He must study the real social implications of legal institutions and legal principles, study the means of making legal rules effective, a sociological study in preparation for lawmaking, a study of judicial method, a sociological legal history.
Pound’s theory that interest is the main subject of law and the act of law is the satisfaction of human wants and desires. It is the function of law to make a ‘valuation of interests’, in other words, to make a selection of socially more valuable interests and to secure them. All this is nothing more than an experiment. That is why Prof.C.K.Allen describes Pound’s approach as ‘Experimental Jurisprudence’.
To understand their real theory, one need not deviate from the wealth of information, which is worth more than half a century of academic work. Pound’s real contribution to the school of sociopolitical jurisprudence is indeed in his discussion of “legal interests” and “jural postulates”.
According to Pound, there are three categories of legal interests, namely private (individual), public and social interests.
Individual interests are “claims or demands or desires immediately involved in personal life and are vocal in the title of that life.” Individual interests are emphasized for personal life titles. This logically leads to the fact that as these interests by and large only involve the individual, interests fall within the purview of private law, although in actual equilibrium this is a generalization that may not always be true.
The public interest is “assertiveness in a politically organized society and the claims or demands or desires embodied in life in the title of that organization. They are generally regarded as the claims of a politically organized society thought of as a legal entity.” These types of interests are articulated in the title or for a politically organized society. Political interests can be generalized within the purview of public law including criminal laws, although there is clearly an overlap with personal interests.
Social interests were originally included by Pound as a separate and important set of interests under which they were described as the claims or demands or desires involved in social life in a civilized society. It is not uncommon to regard them as claims of such a social group. These interests have been regularly associated with the concept of security. Thus, an important part of protection is for society to enjoy an organized legal system within a political organization, which may also fall in the public interest because a political organization requires the existence of some legal control that can be only provided by the legal system. This issue obscures the difference between public and social interests and the Pound himself points to the issue.
The three types of interests are differentiated so that they are balanced against each other, which is the aim of sociological jurisprudence. However, Pound did not really insist on having these interests completely separate from each other. As described above, there is a level of distinction while the overlap between interests is also evident as they are ultimately three perspectives of a set of interests that exist in terms of unity and differentiation.
Criticism of the theory:-
Despite Pound’s great contribution to sociological jurisprudence and his emphasis on studying the actual work of law in society, his theory suffers from some shortcomings. The Pound’s theory of social engineering has been criticised on various grounds.
It has been argued that the classification of interests by the Pound is in the nature of a catalog, in which additions and changes must be made continuously that are neutral in relation to the value and priority relative to the neutral value. Pound’s theory of social engineering has been criticized for its use of the term engineering, which equates society to a factory like a mechanism. Law is a social process rather than the result of applied engineering. It is also not right to equate society with a factory because the former is changing and dynamic in nature while the latter is more or less stable. Again, Pound’s emphasis on engineering ignores the fact that law evolves and develops in society according to social needs and wants that for which law can develop in society according to social needs and for which either in law approval or rejection may occur.
A general criticism against Pound’s theory is about his use of the word ‘engineering’ because it suggests a mechanistic application of the theory to social needs, the term “engineering” is used by Pound for the metaphor to indicate the problems that law has to face, the objectives to be met and the method one must adopt for this purpose.