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the disease and the case worker's effort to have him treated are aspects of case work, but they are subjectively defined.

On the subjective side we have: that he was a wanderer; a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; a hobo at times, showed a lack of responsibility; selfish to the point of brutality; a gentleman at certain times; repentant; a satisfactory worker; that his steadiness of work increased after leaving jail; that he was considerate of his wife and family. A brief inspection of this list indicates that it contains the material which really counts. It is of no special significance by itself that the objective fact, "out of jail," be true. Any change of attitude after being in jail is the significant thing. And attitude is determined by a subjective judgment; it is not an objective phenomenon.

If it be stated that attitudes are inferred from acts, and that acts are objective, then there are two partial answers. First, almost all acts, entirely isolated and objectively regarded, are socially meaningless. Take the statement "considerate of his family." That is a judgment based on a number of acts. Let use take one, payment of money to his family. The act is objective. If it is paid because he does not want to go back to jail, but the moment probation is relaxed he intends to quit, or if he intends to pay only so long as necessary to regain his strength for another hobo trip, that is one thing. If he performs exactly the same act out of a genuine desire to do his duty to his family, that is another. In other words, the identical act may mean different things, socially, under different circumstances: in this illustration, a difference in intent; and intent is a subjective judgment made by the case worker.

The second consideration is that attitudes are inferred, not from one act, but from the relationship between a number of acts. A number of acts in a certain order or certain combination lead one to draw the inference of a certain attitude. No one of the acts in itself would warrant such a subjective judgment, but the combination of acts does. It is a familiar mental process, more often experienced than noting data on which the judgment is based, so that we are accustomed to give to the subjective assumption the validity of the data on which it is based. It is much easier to say "It's a gloomy day”—a subjective judgment-than to give the objective data on which the inference is made: condition of sky, moisture in air, absence of sun. Exact science uses inferences from objective data, and the inferences have tentative validity. The concept of the electron, of electricity itself, of ether, are inferentially formed, are concepts created to explain certain phenomena. The phenomena however, are constant, and they are explanations of a causal relationship without any qualitative elements; not good electricity, but how much. But in social judgment the element of quality always enters.

Objective data in case work, therefore, consists of such states, acts, and circumstances as are observable by the senses—in jail, out of jail; working, not working; paying money, not paying money to one's family-which in themselves have no social significance. They acquire a social significance only in relation

to other acts, and then only when one relates the inferred judgment to a norm of conduct which the case worker has established, or which society has set up. Take for illustration the judgment "hobo trips." When analyzed, the judgment "hobo trips" is formed by the acts of leaving home, coming back months later dirty and ragged, and sending no money home during one's absence.

Going away on a trip is not in itself antisocial, else we all here should be guilty; coming home dirty and ragged is not always condemmed; forest fire fighters return in that plight; sending home no money happens whenever a man goes to a hospital, and no social condemnation ensues. But a married man who is healthy, who can get work, and whose wife does not possess an adequate income of her own shall support his wife-this is a social norm. That is, social good demands, or social experience has demonstrated the necessity, that when a man stands in the relations of husband and father to other persons, those relationships, under certain conditions, require that he furnish economic support.

The significant factor in that statement is responsibility dependent upon relationship. Husband is not only a status; it also carries responsibilities. Social judgments are concerned almost entirely with evaluating the degree or quality of behavior as contrasted with the normal responsibility. A good mother, a careless workman, a useful citizen, a criminal, are social concepts, deductions based upon a large number of facts, their relationship to each other, and the comparison of each deduction with a socially determined norm.

Summing up at this point, we can say that behavior consists of acts which may be objectively appreciated, but acts whose significance can be determined only in relationship, e.g., does this group of acts indicate that the person is meeting his obligation involved in the social relationship which is being studied?

Having said this much, we can make certain observations. Acts vary in the degree of accuracy with which inferences can be drawn from them. If a man beats his wife there is but little danger in drawing an inference without further analysis. In general, however, such acts are safely given alone as evidence of behavior because they are unusual. Some believe that all behavior may be analyzed into unit acts, each with its own significance, such as beating one's wife. The great difficulty in such a method is that even beating one's wife is itself not evaluated as it is because he is beating someone, or that it is a woman he is beating, but that in the person-to-person relationship physical injury inflicted by one on another is injurious to social stability in general, and that in the husband-wife relationship wife-beating has in addition certain evils of its own; certain denials of obligations, such as protection, consideration, affection, etc. The next comment to be made is that when objective facts are listed as problems or accomplishments they should carry a minimum of inferred social quality. Earning $14 a week is an objective fact. Adequacy or inadequacy is an inferred matter, depending on other facts and attitudes. Mrs. Barlow, earning $14 a week, even in 1919, could almost take care of her three children and herself. The responsibility she assumed in her economic relations was more rigid

than that of the average person. That does not mean we should not protect against low wages; it does mean that in Mrs. Barlow's case it is questionable whether $14 a week is to be listed as a disability.

We hear a good deal of a dependency index. Dr. Emerson has berated us soundly for not doing what physicians have done in charting the progress of their conquest of disease. However, even in the field of medicine, certainty is by no means so easily secured as it may seem. Dr. Emerson can tell us how much less or more of any specific disease there may be, because diseases are objectively verified; and he may tell us how much longer or shorter time men are living than they used to live, because that can be measured. But can he tell us how much healthier men are than they used to be, or that they are so at all? Health is a matter of success in relationships, and can only be so defined. And I don't think there is any successful and accepted method for determining it. Dependency-What is it? It is of course a concept, based on a wide range of acts. If one act is taken as definitive, application to an agency for financial relief, an inference is made which is subject to all sorts of errors.

Mrs. Barlow's sister, you may remember, appealed in her behalf in 1908. No aid was given; case closed. In 1909 no application was made. In 1918 Mrs. Barlow applied; aid was given. In a dependency index should we list Mrs. Barlow as an unnecessary applicant in 1908, independent in 1909, dependent in 1918? If we do, our words mean nothing. Here a brand new element enters into the problem of objective tests: a new relationship, that of the social agency to the client. In 1908 Mrs. Barlow was in probably her greatest need, but the attitude or theory of the agency caused it to refuse assistance. That attitude probably kept Mrs. Barlow away from it for several years. In 1918 Mrs. Barlow had come quite a long way back on the road of independence, and yet the society accepted-in fact, sought-the responsibility and carried it for months. A dependency index that means anything at all will be possible when this element of difference can be ignored. The number of applicants in one community as compared with the number in another is, I believe, more accurately a measure of social work attitudes and skill than of dependency.

Again, one of the most dangerous of errors in case work is to assume that a behavior which followed case work was caused by it. In 1908 Mrs. Barlow was utterly discouraged, defeated in the struggle against the hard circumstances of her life, about ready to surrender upon any favorable terms. In 1918 we find her with much of her old courage returned-hard, bitter, violent tempered, to be sure the prices she had paid for her victory; but she had won her major battle; she had saved enough of herself to keep her home and the affection of her children. Not the wildest enthusiast would claim that there was any causal relation between this good result and the case work of the preceding fourteen years. One would be almost justified in saying it happened in spite of the case work.

The illustration brings out another point-a variant of our first one— -that

our evaluations are subjective and qualitative. How can Mrs. Barlow's progress in her mastery of circumstance be measured? When near defeat she was dirty, her hair uncombed, her one child neglected, her home uncared for. When she had won out she was neat, her home was spotless, her children were pathetically loyal and affectionate. Those were the objective phenomena, but they were relatively meaningless by themselves. The big fact was that she had grown in capacity to handle the burdens of life. Cleanliness, neatness, even affection of children, might or might not accompany such a development in personal capacity.

I should like to make at least one positive suggestion in this long list of negatives. If our statistics and the publicity growing out of them have so little of the objective in them, might we not experiment in listing positive accomplishments, which have objective validity? The grade attained in school, new adornments in the home, church connections made, relatives who have been brought into contact again with the client, the increased steadiness of work, the contributions the older children are induced to make to their parents-these, at least, are objective. Such a recital, however, brings out another weakness of any attempt to evaluate case work by whatever method we use: we assume credit for accomplishments in whose making we had only a small part at best.

It seems to me we must candidly face the fact that at present objective data do not help as much in estimating the tasks which social case work assumes or in evaluating the results of its efforts. Our means of descriptions are subjective evaluations: the expressions of our judgments respecting situations and progress. This being so, the first essential is that as nearly as possible our inferences shall be made accurately and the objective data used as premises defined in as nearly uniform manner as words may be. This brings us back to the need of uniform terms in statistics and for uniform terminology in social case work. Until these ends are accomplished we cannot take even the first steps in a scientifically accurate comparison of work for results. If, however, we all use words in the same way, and they are exactly defined, we can then make our inferences with one great element of error eliminated.

But even then I don't think the needs of publicity or of interpretation will be met. People, after all, are interested in people, not in isolated facts about them. The real objective test of case work is an honestly and dramatically described case story.




Paul H. Douglas, University of Chicago

Although the volume of poverty in this country has diminished greatly during the last decade, social workers, of all people, do not need to be informed of its continued existence and of the problems which it creates. Society, through its poor law, has recognized its obligation to preserve life after it has once been brought into the world, while the almost universally accepted principle of the living wage assumes that industry should provide those whom it employs with at least the basic physical necessities of life. Yet, despite this intellectual and moral acceptance of the principle that from one source or another the physical needs of life should be provided for, we are still, in practice, far from our goal.

Broadly speaking, there are two main classes of the poor, namely, those who are in poverty because they are unable to be employed, and those who, though employed, receive such low wages as not to meet their fundamental needs. The first group includes such classes as widows with dependent children, the aged, the handicapped, and the unemployed. Such assistance as has been given these groups has come primarily from public or private charity rather than from industry. On the other hand, while members of the second groups have been assisted sometimes by outside charity, in the main their economic problem has been recognized as one which industry itself should solve.

The laborer, it has been justly said, is worthy of his hire; and industries that use up men's vitality should at least return them command over sufficient sources of energy to renew their strength. Otherwise, an industry is parasitic and draws from its workers more than it gives back. This principle of a minimum wage which industry should pay its workers has been legally adopted for both men and women in Australia, and for the most underpaid industries in Great Britain. It was a belief in this principle which led a dozen American states to enact minimum wage laws for women, while during and following the war it was admitted also that the principle applied with equal validity to men.

In this humanitarian movement certain assumptions have become so universally adopted that they have guided both the practical tactics and the immediate objectives of the movement. Perhaps the two most important of these assumptions are: first, that every adult male should be paid enough to support the so-called "normal" family of five, consisting of husband, wife, and three dependent children under fourteen; and second, that every woman should be

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