Subjective social indicators

Date of publication: December 1, 1978

Author: Tim H. Mobbs


Social indicators have teen defined by Land (1975) as "Statistics which measure social conditions and changes therein over time for various segments of a population. By Social Conditions we mean both the external (social and physical) and the internal (subjective and perceptional) contexts of human existence in a given society". In this paper, I accept Land's definition, and by subjective social indicators refer to those conditions which Land depicts as "internal". This paper contends that the development of subjective social indicators has not led to any change in the power relationship between the government and the governed. It cannot give the public a powerful weapon with which to restrict the exercise of arbitrary power by an unresponsive government. Nor can it give the government the subtle manipulative device which it has sometimes been claimed to be. But, if the government has a will to be responsive, then subjective social indicators can provide a valuable safeguard against arbitrary or ill-informed decisions.

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