This work presents a systematic historical and analytical understanding of Sri Lanka's social development. Instead of merely focusing on economic yardsticks, it studies the country's development in the conceptual framework of social policy, with an emphasis on the way current institutions reflect the impact of previous political conflicts and struggles.

The book critiques the country's social policy from the perspectives of the Western theories of ‘welfare state’ and development studies. It also provides valuable insights into the issues of modernization and democratization in colonial settings by analyzing the distinctive nature of the Sri Lankan colonial experience. The book also looks at the future prospects of development in Sri Lanka in view of the unfolding of the complex social and political milieu following the end of the twenty-five-year-old civil war in the country.

This book will be a seminal reference resource for students and researchers working in the fields of development studies, colonial studies, South Asian studies, sociology, history, and political science.

Consolidation of the Welfare State

Consolidation of the welfare state

Looking back over the past quarter of a century, it can broadly be said that remarkable progress has indeed been made [in Sri Lanka] on the social side. But the transformation of the economy is lagging behind.

—Dudley Seers (1971)


The most decisive stage in the evolution of Sri Lanka as a social democracy flows from the far-reaching constitutional changes that occurred at the end of World War II in 1945. The colonial government, following criticisms of the 1931 Donoughmore Constitution, and in response to continued agitation for complete self-rule appointed the Soulbury Commission to report on further constitutional reform. This commission proceeded to recommend a system of fully responsible government under the Crown with a greater degree ...

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