14 Int'l Soc. Work 1 (1971)

handle is hein.journals/intsocwk14 and id is 1 raw text is: 
















EDITORIAL


AN international journal of this size is
       confronted  with  a  problem:  such
       large  and  varied world to  represent,
 so many  aspects to cover, (and so few pages).
 How   can  we  understand  the  problems  of
 social work  training in any country without
 considerable  knowledge   of  its social ser-
 vices? How   can we   understand its welfare,
 problems  without knowledge  of its economic
 situation? Every  contributor has  this pro-
 blem  of the  vast background   required for
 the appreciation of the  subject in his fore-
 ground.
   Kenneth  Borelli provides a  useful model
 for the solution of these issues. He presents
 his account of  the social welfare provision
 in five Central American countries in the con-
 text of a  sophisticated discussion of social
 security planning priorities in an area with
 very limited resources and severe social pro-
 blems, and with due regard to socio-economic
 factors, ethnic heterogeneity  and  political
 structure. We are  indebted  to him  for his
 masterly digest of a vast amount  of factual
 information concerning the countries in ques-
 tion, which helps us to understand their poli-
 cies and the limitations of the provision they
 have so far been  able to make; and  for his
 radical suggestions for co-operative planning
 and implementations  of social security.
   It seems  appropriate  to include  in the
same   issue  Abraham   Monk's   fascinating,
though  depressing,  paper  on  an  abortive
project of community  consultation in another
South American  country, Argentina. He brings
into sharp focus the crucial problems at the
heart of community work  : What do we  mean


by   community?   Who   is  the client? For
Professor  Monk,   the community   was  the
local  population of Rio Turbio, and his client
was   an  exogenous   factor, a Minister of
the  Federal Government,   who  had  complete
formal  control of the community  in question.
The   problem  for this client was  the unor-
ganized,   passive, functional  resistance, in
terms  of  labour turnover  and  low  produc-
tivity, which eluded his control and  marked
the  limits of his formidable power. No doubt
the  Minister also considered himself a repre-
sentative of  the community  -   the popu-
lation of Argentina  as a whole; whereas  his
consultant, as  a  practitioner of community
work,   felt a greater  loyalty to  the local
employees.   These  were  for  him  not  only
the  community,  but also his natural client
- hence the construct client-object -
for  whom  the  problem  was  the tyranny  of
the  client-subject. This tangle of  human
meanings  reminds  us, if we need reminding,
that social work, specially in the community
ReId, cannot hope to ignore political situations,
or to maintain a neutral stance towards them.
The client-subject had safeguarded his posi-
tion by confining his consultants to a purely
diagnostic and  advisory  function. Even had
there  been   no  revolution, it is doubtful
whether,  in a  situation of such acute con-
flict of interests and unequal distribution of
power,   the  recommendation for radical
changes  of  policy and practice, jointly for-
mulated   by  management,   consultants and
workers  (with built-in safeguards to ensure
ample  community  participation) would ever
have  got beyond   the nearest pigeon-hole,

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