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outward respectability. Indeed this trait became evident as a distinct impulse to identify herself with a group superior to her own. It was not that she had come in contact with any special set of people of whom she wished to be one; it appeared rather as if she had an undefined notion of the existence of desirably placed people who possessed the symbols of superior status. She took pains with her dress partly because she recognized that good clothes might enlarge her opportunities of attracting men of better social position than her own; she cultivated the personal refinement of carefully tended hands, of gentle manners; she was offended if invited to a cheap restaurant and became gracious and amiable when taken to a modish one. In short she had the makings of a social climber.
If the agency dealing with these cases reflected nothing more than the average opinion upon them, what discrimination of any import would it display? Average opinion would have something to say about the individual girls by way of conventional appraisal of their characters. It would note the intelligence and refinement of Rachel, the fact that her misdoing was with a man she loved and expected to marry; it would note the amiable pliability of Molly, the shallowness of Janice. If it looked at all beyond the individual girl, it would stop with the immediate family group, contenting itself here with an impressionistic rating of the family respectability. But the quality of that respectability, the degree to which the family group mirrors ideals and standards that are the social contribution of larger groups-all this the average thought would miss utterly.
Yet these cases surely invite attention to social forces, to social valuations of farreaching concern. The case of Rachel involved first the Jewish respect for learning. Her misplaced confidence in the young man began with an overrating—which her family shared of the social worth of his American education. Being unfamiliar with the educational standards and the tokens of social integrity in a new country, they imputed to him more gentlemanly implications of scholarship than he deserved. Rachel's case involved a further point of social moment. The bitterness, even cruelty, of her father would be imperfectly understood if one failed to view the family in its relation to the Jewish community before which the father stood as an exponent of tradition. The religious tradition of Israel, with its messianic hope, has carried a promise, shared by each humble man and woman, that from them might spring a great spiritual leader for their people. Whether literally held as a faith or not, such a tradition has fostered a dim emotional appreciation of the infinite collective consequences of the act of procreation-an act otherwise so easily thought of as of merely private import. The agency dealing with this Jewish girl could not realize its full possibilities of influence without a sympathetic sense of the quality of the social status that was here violated.
The case of Molly involved the social sanctions which an evangelical Methodism carried in a scattered farming community. The tradition here harks back to John Wesley's preaching of redemption, of sin as the forfeiting of one's standing before God, with the consequence of exclusion from God's ideal community in the hereafter. Such a tradition is perhaps more congenial to the Yankee individualism of these farm folk, in that it stresses the consequences of the sinful act as falling upon the individual, and postpones the realizing of its collective ideals to a life beyond. Yet even here a sense of the collective stake in the sinful act is latent, and in such a situation as Molly's would count for good if tactfully brought into play.
The case of Janice involved the problem-ever present in a democratic society-of putting the aspiration and consciousness of caste upon a valid basis. In an aristocratic society of the simpler old-fashioned type caste was not a serious disturber of social valuations. The landholding families at the top, mellowed by generations of undisputed privilege, used their position and wealth with some sense of noblesse oblige. They enjoyed at least a presumption that the outward embellishments of high living were but the appropriate marks of a superior strain in their nature. If their embellishments were copied by the newly rich, who missed their inner graces of dignity and delicacy, the authentic exemplars nevertheless continued in the public eye for comparison and correction, and their place in the general regard was not usurped by expensive imitations. In America of today there is no such ease of identification in the marks of social worth. We have no aristocratic caste whose graces would command a semi-official recognition as the tokens of gentility. In its place we have several groups whose position is socially esteemed. Diverse in their occupations-financial, professional, artistic-they do not unite to present a clear front against pretentious shams. Meanwhile the near-genteel groups, people whose crudity of appetite and poverty of interest are easily overlooked amid their unrivaled upholstery, get for their tastes and standards a continuous publicity through the Sunday supplements and the movies. To a girl who, like Janice, had taken her social education from these sources, there was nothing incongruous between her family's eager concern with comeliness in all their outward show and their grossness in treating the sexual relation as a matter merely of transient personal indulgence. Hers was a case for re-education-of one whose social training was utterly amiss.
Briefly as I have been obliged to sketch these cases, I have mentioned enough to suggest first that the public official, in dealing with the actual individual, is working at the only point where social values can be concretely grasped, and secondly that these values are to be more sharply identified and practically influenced through the client's group relationships. The individual is the string on which all social overtones come into being, but the group is the sounding-board by which they gain poignancy and power.
The practical drift of all this concern with ideas will grow apparent to the public worker as he finds that his policies are bound to act as sanctions for ideas. Here is a mother seeking relief. She is a clever manager: she makes over and cooks over with tireless care and resourcefulness, and she thereby clothes and feeds her brood on less than will keep any neighbor going. By what idea of fitness should her relief be gauged? The safe and easy idea would be to equalize her present comfort with her neighbor's comfort by a dole below any neighbor's minimum demand. A more enlightened idea would be to equalize the relief with the neighbors' minimum and let her good management reap a little reward in a bettered standard of living. Such a question rises many times in dealing with foreign mothers-with people said to live on "next to nothing." Is the maximum ambition that we are able to recognize in the immigrant the urge to keep together body and soul? If the public practice answers yes to this question, we are giving official sanction to the idea that peasants shall stay peasants for all we care. For better or for worse such official sanctions are at work in the lives of our clients and of their groups. They blur or sharpen the conduct patterns by which our social standards are realized. Indeed they affect the enforceability of law. Where proscribed conduct impresses average opinion as falling within the realm of usage and
manners, the official dealings with it tend to make light of any stigma attaching. But this is to chime in with the ethics of the man on the street, to whom manners, morals, and actions before the law seem things differing in kind. They differ rather in the immanence and obviousness of the collective stake in them. Minor conduct, viewed in any longer social vista, attains a majority import. What we need is courage and skill to bring all available sanctions to bear upon it, especially where its consequences are too remote and inconspicuous to enlist a spontaneous group indorsement. Unchastity, indeed, will become an almost tractable evil when we can once underwrite the law's restraint with society's all-compelling formula: "It isn't done"!
FUNCTIONS OF PUBLIC AND PRIVATE AGENCIES IN THE
C. M. Bookman, Executive Secretary, Council of Social Agencies, Cincinnati
Tonight's program casts me in the rôle of prophet. However, in assuming that rôle I am assuming one not unfamiliar to the social worker, as all of us should be building for the future and our acts should conform to a plan carefully conceived and prophetically projected. I am asked, therefore, to analyze present plans in social work and in so far as possible to project those plans into the future. I should be cautioned at the oustet that any course charted by a social worker will be subjected to many conflicting forces and changing conditions and that functions I may assign to public or private agencies in the social work of the future should permit broad interpretations. The field of social work is broad. The activities of social workers touch all phases of human experience. It will, therefore, be impossible for me to analyze all or even a small percentage of the worth-while efforts that can be labeled social work.
I shall ask you to be considerate of me in the selections I have made. In calling attention to some of the past and present social efforts, I do not wish to be interpreted as assuming that these are all the efforts of vital importance that are worthy of consideration. They have been selected because they bear supporting testimony to the case I shall attempt to make. I am asked to speak especially on the functions to be assumed by private agencies in the social work of the future, nevertheless I know I shall be unable entirely to separate the functions of public and private agencies. This somewhat arbitrary division of social work exists largely in theory. The satisfaction of human needs recognizes no arbitrary divisions of functions, no geographical boundaries, no sharp distinctions of creed or color, in truth no artificial divisions whatsoever. Human needs to be satisfied must draw upon the best of all agencies and forces that civilization has or can evolve.
While there has been some current discussion of the advisability of placing practically all social effort on public expense, the fact remains that at least during our day and generation, and I believe for all time, the need of both public and private agencies will exist; one telling reason why this is true can be found in the strong desires and impulses that actuate human hearts to be brotherly which will never be satisfied by the mere paying of taxes. That we may gain the proper perspective from which to view the social work of the future, a partial review of the history of social work is important at this time.
The growth in the number of private agencies in America in the past twenty years challenges our attention. Together let us consider some of the reasons for this growth, the functions assumed by agencies and the measure of success which has attended their efforts. One important fact that thrusts itself forward is that most of these agencies were established to meet real needs. While we hear a great deal about duplication and overlapping, the amazing thing is that so little of actual duplication exists and so much of real good is being accomplished despite handicaps under which these separate and somewhat diversified groups are working.
If these agencies are not in the main overlapping, why the unusual growth? The past few years in America have been years of concentration of people in great centers of population. Cities have increased in population faster than civic and social institutions have expanded to meet the needs thus created. Social evils incident to congestion are on every hand. The individual and his needs are not so intimately the concern of other individuals able to satisfy those needs. How natural that groups should organize to meet the needs of the many who have not been able to adjust themselves to changing conditions. One result, at least, of this natural development has been serious. Group action and group responsibility has well-nigh obliterated individual action and individual responsibility. Business, politics, religion, and other great forces have become less and less intimate and personal. The importance of the individual has been lost sight of not only by himself, but by society. The individual too often relies upon the standing of his group and the power of his group rather than upon his own initiative. The workman depends upon his union, the officeholder upon his party, the capitalist upon his trade group, and each of us upon some association which we expect will meet, in part at least, our obligation and duty to ourselves and to society. Group action and group responsibility is essential, but not to the extent that the responsibility of the individual for his own actions and in large measure for his own success is minimized. One of the outstanding needs, it seems to me, of our present civilization is the recognition and strengthening of individual responsibility. It is more the province of organized groups and of government to see to it that the individual has the opportunity of realizing his greatest possibilities of development without interference either from unfavorable conditions or overlapping interests. This, to my mind, is the fundamental premise upon which democracy must prove its case. This will be of major concern to the social work of the future.
In addition to the problems resulting from the massing of population other factors have entered. Medicine and science in general have made and are making their contributions. The world is becoming smaller and consequently more points of contact are being established. In other words, in addition to the normal increase in social service problems that have resulted from constantly changing conditions, men are finding new ways and means of living a complete life. How futile to speculate on whether or not government agencies should carry the entire burden. We know to a certainty that they cannot do so at the present time, even if society showed a willingness to tax itself to that extent for human improvement. We know that physically our cities cannot or do not provide adequately for their proper growth. City planning has only recently appealed to any great number of people as being necessary. If our people show an unwillingness to face sensibly the tangible physical growth of our cities can we expect acceptance by them of communal responsibility for intangible human relationships?
It is patent to any student of the subject that when populations increase rapidly new governmental functions do not keep up with the needs thus created. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that government agencies do not interest themselves to any great extent in many of the problems vital to human welfare. Partly because of this, private groups and private individuals inspired with the spirit of human service are giving of their time and money to correct social maladjustments and to place at the disposal of humanity the most recent findings of science. The creation of these separate societies was a necessary step in social evolution. They are formed very largely by a few interested individuals who in some way or other have come into contact with destitution and want and with legitimate human aspirations unrealized. These small groups are able to draw to their support a limited percentage of the population of the community. The funds with which to do their work have been meager, the backing they have secured from the general public has not been great, the paid workers on their staffs have lived a precarious life subject to the whims of their supporters. These agencies have been concerned very largely with special problems. They have not taken into consideration to any degree the great moving forces of civilization. They have in large part done well the particular work in which they were engaged but not until recently have they begun to consider in any broad way the underlying causes of the social evils they are trying to correct, and that they are but one of the many movements tending toward the betterment of human life. Their special interests must not be submerged. However, to cope with present conditions they must unite their forces and cause those united forces to interplay with those other great forces of an evolving civilization. They must draw upon a larger percentage of the population and not rely upon their selected few.
May I draw upon Cincinnati experience for illustration, not because its work is better than other cities but because I know more intimately its successes and failures? In Cincinnati in 1915 a study was made to determine the extent to which the community was back of social work. This study showed from three to four thousand constant supporters of social work, with possibly an equal number of intermittent supporters. Think of it, from 1 to 1 per cent of the population giving constant support to private welfare work.
Our organizations could not apply the power of creative thought to the entire field of human relationships as their vision was necessarily limited, neither did they possess the resources to make use to any great extent of educational publicity in bringing to the attention of the citizens of the community things that needed to be done or the way of doing them. The support they received was not a sustained support. Their results were scarcely cumulative. Many of these agencies looked upon their work as an end in itself. Many barriers stood in the way of community action. The agencies and social workers were largely individualistic; little or no harmony existed among the groups; creed was an almost certain barrier to community action.
I am fully aware of the great contributions made to human betterment by movements which came into existence during this formative period of our social work. The settlement movement understood clearly that it must establish contacts with the people themselves, and enlist their support; that it must make everybody part and parcel of whatever action was decided upon as necessary. If a new structure was to be built the people themselves must build it. The settlements possess a point of view which I fear is lost sight of today by many interested in community organization.