Positive social planning

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Social planners at all levels worldwide have been taking inspiration from both the positivity and the subjectivism of the Positive Pychology movement. Referred to here as Positive Social Planning (PSP), this movement is emerging as a disparate set of practices sharing a common interest in the understanding and promotion of social goods, and in people’s subjective experience and evaluation of them. This could be strengthened, first, by ethical recognition of the intrinsic value of social goods, as distinct from their instrumental value in facilitating happiness. Secondly, planners will need systematic description and analysis of social goods and of their interaction with mental goods: a social wellbeing matrix is recommended here as a simple tool for distinguishing core categories of social quality at all levels. Thirdly, this chapter explores two kinds of normative implication: the importance of systematic appreciation of happiness and social goods as a route to empathy; and the translation from this into better policy and practice. Finally, the Bhutanese Gross National Happiness movement is offered as a case study in the development of these ethical, descriptive-analytical, and normative shifts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPositive Psychology in Practice
Subtitle of host publicationPromoting Human Flourishing in Work, Health, Education, and Everyday Life
EditorsStephen Joseph
Place of PublicationHoboken, NJ
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons Inc.
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781118996874, 9781118757178 , 9781118757253
ISBN (Print)9781118756935
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2015


  • positive social planning
  • happiness
  • social quality
  • social goods
  • intrinsic value
  • social pathologism


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