Are there any sucessful historical examples of top down social engineerinh

Nov 2014
Are there any examples of top sucessful top down social engineering that has had beneficial effects? Could state Confucianism in the Sinosphere be a good example, or the Christianization of Europe and Latin America, in terms of ending such things as human sacrifices? Could the spread of Islam and the codification of Islamic law in Muslim lands be also an example of sucessful top down social engineering, or the process of Romanization of formerly barbarian lands like Gaul and Hispania? Or how about the British Raj in terms of the British civil service and ending sutee?


Ad Honoris
May 2014
Do the Roman Catholic's successful efforts to ban and discourage cousin marriage in Western Europe count for this? This resulted in a more outbred Western European population.
Sep 2014
Queens, NYC
^^Are you sure? I've never read that inbreeding was common in pre-Christian Western Europe. I know that the Church gave dispensations for cousin marriages, not always to the best results. I refer to the 16th-17th century Habsburg marriages?

Otherwise, I'll try to think about how to answer the OP.
Oct 2016
Depends upon what is meant by success. A bully in a schoolyard imposes ' social engineering' no doubt (as do the ones in classrooms yclept 'teachers'). The imposition in the former case is a success to only the top-dog; that of the teacher, hopefully otherwise.

I suppose Alexander the Great's empire is a good example of top-down organization. Some of his successor states lasted a few hundred years (e.g., Ptolemy's Egypt.)
Nov 2018
The Danish agrarian reforms in Denmark from 1784-1830.

The Danish agriculture had bad conditions in the early 1700s and it went really bad for the whole agricultural sector also because farmland was not cultivated in a productive way.

It was so bad that the government in 1755 created a journal "Denmark's and Norway's Economic Magazine" where it was allowed to debate freely about the conditions of agriculture and peasants.

This in a country with censorship and absolute monarchy.

Freedom and ownership of the peasants became the focus, which was to increase efficiency in Danish agriculture, through the next 50 years of agricultural reform.

The reason it took so long was that one tried to accommodate all parties both landowners and farmers, so that it did not come to protests or rebellion from either side.

Crown Prince Frederik, later Frederik VI and the circle around him, which consisted of enlightened landowners and who was inspired by the thoughts of the Enlightenment on free and equal conditions for everyone, started these reforms.

There were different reasons one of them was the inhuman conditions for the peasants, which was crushed by forced labor and taxes to the landowner. Many of them were unable to provide food for themselves and their families.

It made the landowners complained about unwilling and lazy peasants. Moreover, agricultural production fell.

The Crown Prince also wanted to do something about this, as it was to the detriment of the whole country.

The main reforms were the replacement of the land the village cultivated jointly, for each farmer to gather his land in a single place. It usually also meant that the farm had to be moved away from the village and out to the fields. Support was provided for funding.

Adscript for men from 4-40 years were repealed.The reason why the adscription was introduced in the first place was to prevent the male part of the population from fleeing from the hopeless conditions in the countryside.

The conditions for the peasants working on farms attach to the estates, and who had to carry out forced labor on the grounds of the main estate took longer to improve, so they got the opportunity to buy the farms they had worked often for generations.

However, it did happen gradually, and often because the landowner found out that, they could sell the farms for a good price.

Nevertheless, in the beginning, many landowners were opposed to the new reforms and had it not been to the crown prince's willing attitude to the peasants' emancipation it could not have been done.

However, it was not implemented with compulsory measures but recommendations and laws that made it possible, today it’s called nudging.

The result of the peasants' emancipation was that now that they worked for themselves, then their production of agricultural products increased considerably for the benefit of the whole country.

And later, the peasants along with the middle class were the driving force for the introduction of democracy in Denmark

Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
Diocletian's reforms prevented imminent collapse and keep the Roman Empire prospering for at least another 150 years.
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Mar 2018
Successive French governments in the 19th century forced the local languages/dialects to die out and be replaced with standardised French, does that count? The bigger program of removing local (ie, Normand, Aquitaine, etc...) identities and replacing with a wider French one was very successful.
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