A deviant society is a society whose structure is contrary to human nature and does not allow the satisfaction of basic human needs. Developed societies are to a certain extent responsive to material needs, but non-material needs are largely unmet. It is ironic that in this sense, the so called underdeveloped countries are actually more 'developed'. Schizophrenia, for instance, is much less common in the Third World than in industrialized countries, perhaps owing to their still viable natural communities such as strong families and villages. In poor countries people cry for bread; in rich countries they a hunger for meaning and identity. The unprecedented material progress during the post-war period has not necessarily made people happier.
Numerous people in the industrialized societies long to get away from achievement-oriented society, away from soulless jobs on the factory floor, away from the grim climb up the career ladder. There is a longing for a softer society, a secret desire to drop out, to be free, to begin to live. Industrial and economic growth-oriented society thus suppresses basic non-material needs, especially those for love and belonging, because it is incompatible with viable natural communities. The family and the local community started to disintegrate with the advent of industrialism. The process of industrialization means that more and more people become organized in factories and offices which function according to impersonal bureaucratic rules. Large-scale enterprises may lead to increased productivity but they also take their toll in terms of depersonalization and anonymity.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.