Social Planning

Definition: Social planning is a process to develop policies, plans, and programs for human services. Practitioners work in public or private settings; in functional areas such as health, housing, or welfare; and in territories ranging from neighborhood to nation. (Checkoway, 196) Apply: Social planning can be applied to community development work by providing a framework for the interactional role of social workers and community organizers in applying their knowledge and expertise in developing plans or programs specific to the community that they are working with. Additionally, social planning provides community organizers with an approach for mobilizing resources and generating support for community development projects. While traditionally, social planning does not entail strategic planning, practices and skills borrowed from political strategy, such as building coalitions and selecting tactics, can potentially be utilized as well to enhance the effectiveness of social planning efforts. Adapt: Social planning can be used in an urban planning setting to assess the social impacts of land use. In this context, social planning would be used more as an analytical tool with an emphasis more on technical research, objective data collection and fact finding, as opposed to interactional relationships.


  1. Apply: Social planning allows community organizers to first investigate and then respond to the community participants needs. Through social planning community organizers can determine what the community member’s view as problems and what they would like to see changed. Community organizers can then develop plans, policies and procedures to accomplish the changes desired. Strategic policy and action can help communities in need to enhance its well being and effectiveness.
    Adapt: Social planning can be used in a setting such as a hospital. If policies and procedures are affecting patients, social planning can be used to establish new policies to benefit the patients. All staff members can collaborate to determine why the hospital is not meeting the patient’s needs by discussing the issues with patients and then collaborate with each other to form ideas to solve these issues. Through collaboration the hospital staff and administrators can develop new policies or procedures to effectively serve the patients.

  2. Application & Adaptation: Social planning in urban planning can go beyond land use planning and can also be more than quantitative. A lot of urban planning is evolving to have more of a social planning emphasis because the planning profession has recognized the need to include the public in decision-making. A great example of this is the Detroit Works campaign, Mayor Bing’s master plan and rezoning initiative. It is encompassing more than just land use and really looking for resident input on the future of the city at all levels.