JOURNAL ISSUE 3
2000/2001

table of contents

 

The Future of Social Work Theory and Practice

David Macarov, Ph.D.
Paul Baerwald

 

THINGS CHANGE

When, during the depths of the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt discussed the proposal for a social security program in the United States with his social service advisor, Harry Hopkins, he is said to have remarked that although the program would not solve problems immediately, it would prove itself in the long run. Harry Hopkins is said to have replied: "But Mr. President, people eat in the short run."

The social work profession has always been ambivalent about how to divide time, personnel, knowledge and resources between dealing with current pressing problems, and attacking the conditions, which create those problems. At times the emphasis has been on one side, and at other times on the other. The reason for such ambivalence and swings in opinion is, of course, the fact that social work theory and practice cannot be divorced from the economic, social, physical, governmental and ideological world in which they exist, and this is constantly changing. Therefore, whether planned or not, change takes place.

For example, a search of the indices of two American social work journals for the years, 1977, 1987 and 1997 finds that twenty years ago social workers there were writing about networking, systems theory, behavior modification, licensing, revenue sharing, social action, radical social work, encounter groups and role playing.

Ten years later almost all of these had disappeared from the indices and the new terms being used were deinstitutionalization, income testing, burnout and malpractice -- none of which were found ten years previously, nor do they appear ten years later. In 1997 terms such as social constructionism, disinvestment, ecology, managed care, welfare reform and nonprofit organizations appear for the first time.

Even forms of therapy change in popularity. In 1987 we find cognitive therapy, transactional analysis, crisis intervention, short-term therapy, family therapy and group therapy mentioned. Not only are these unnoted in 1997, but there appear for the first time locus of control, mediation, post-traumatic stress disorder, self-help/empowerment, focus groups, and narrative therapy. A current British journal speaks of post-modern social work, using terms like postfordism, consumerist ideas, competence-based learning, the contract culture, capacity building, anti-oppressive practices and reflexivity -- terms never heard of twenty or even ten years ago.

It will be recognized, of course, that not all social work theory and practice has been changed in the last twenty years, nor are all the changes that have taken place reflected in the indices and articles mentioned. Much of what social workers do is unrecorded, and if recorded, not published; and if published, not necessarily in the journals discussed.

Not only do ideas emerge and disappear as attitudes, activities, and situations change, but the tools with which these are dealt also change. That clients should have access to what the social worker writes in their records would have been considered irresponsible practice and a violation of confidentiality at one time, but today is considered not only the client's right, but good practice.

Similarly, insofar as research is concerned, it is doubtful that a researcher under the age of, say, forty would recognize an IBM punchcard if he or she saw one, let alone a Fortram sheet - both of which were once the core tools of empirical studies. Further, the pace of change is also increasing. It has been noted that during the years of the horse, people had centuries to adapt to change. In the time of the automobile, people had decades to change. Today, in the time of computers, we may have a weekend to adapt.

Again, let me emphasize that although some changes occur because things become unfashionable, or because some fads are replaced by newer ones, many variations in social work practice reflect real adaptability to changing societal situations. Unfortunately, change in social work practice, and even more so in social work education, tends to be reactive, rather than proactive. Most changes in curricula occur because social, governmental or personal situations have changed, and social work practice must be changed to meet them. Rarely is a curriculum constructed with an eye toward what practice will be like in the future. And yet, students entering at about age twenty or so will probably practice until age sixty or more - a forty year period in which many changes will take place, some of which can be confidently predicted today.

 

ON PREDICTING THE FUTURE

People have been trying to foretell the future from the earliest days of recorded history. In some places and at some times medicine men and shamans, witch doctors and seers were supplemented by inanimate objects, of which the Greek oracle at Delphi is perhaps the best known. However, the basis of much Greek tragedy lies in the fact that Cassandra always predicted correctly, and that her predictions were invariably ignored. Many of the Hebrew prophets discussed events to come, some at the end of time, but most for shorter periods. The Middle Ages saw Nostradamus reading the stars and making predictions from them -- a tradition that continues both in modern astrology and in continuing quotations from that medieval astrologer. Today, the advent of every new year is marked by published predictions by better- and lesser-known seers, whose occasional coincidental triumphs are trumpeted, while their many failures are ignored. During the last fifty years, however, there has grown up a school of thought, if not a discipline, which makes use of more rational, exact and replicable measures of the future. Over the course of time, these measures have come to include the following:

 

CONSENSUS OF EXPERTS

This consensus is sometimes derived by very controlled methods, such as the Delphi method, or polls of Nobel Prize winners. In other cases, consensus is seen in published works, conference papers, newspaper articles, and informal correspondence. Consensus, of course, may be overwhelming, but not necessarily unanimous. Although there is very widespread consensus that increase of the ozone gap will result in atmospheric -- and thus other -- changes, there are nevertheless dissenters to this prediction.

MATHEMATICAL EQUATIONS

This method, favored by economists, uses mathematical equations to represent the real world (or the part being studied), with deliberate changes made in input variables to indicate the different results to be expected. Many predictions concerning economic futures are the result of such mathematical manipulations.

 

COMPUTER SIMILATIONS

Akin to mathematical models, computer simulations make it possible to deal with very large numbers of variables, and to determine how a change -- even a minute change -- in any one or several of them will affect all the others, and thus the results being predicted.

 

CONTENT ANALYSIS

This method analyzes the content of contemporary publications, research papers, and other written material, from which trends and predictions are derived.

 

SCENARIOS

These are imaginary projections into the future, often dealing with situations not actually anticipated or being predicted. They are the subject of free association and thought, and are usually referred to as science fiction. Such imaginations may, however, become self-fulfilling prophecies, as persons reading the scenarios decide to make them come true.

Thus, the novels of Jules Verne stimulated many readers to think about submarines, rapid transportation, and space travel for the first time, and in some cases to begin to work on these ideas. Similarly, utopian novels planted the seeds for some social structures and activities now extant. Indeed, many of the inventions and changes outlined in relatively recent science-fiction writing, and even comic strips, have become realities -- space stations, wristwatch radios, laser beams, and many others.

 

ANALOGIES AND COMPARISONS

Another method of predicting the future is to examine what has happened in other places and/or other times when the current situation seemed similar. The rise of religious fundamentalism; unexpected scientific breakthroughs; a growing gap between the very rich and the very poor - all of these have happened before, and a look back provides a basis for a look forward.

 

TREND ANALYSIS

Perhaps the most-often-used method of future prediction is the extension of current trends into the future. Some such predictions are based upon present reality. The continuing growth in the elderly population to be expected in the future is not based on expectations of changing birth rates, but upon the population pyramid that presently exists and on the lengthening of life expectancy, which is still occurring.

 

COMBINATIONS OF METHODS

Most serious predictions today are based upon a combination of various methods. For example, trend projection -- if unchecked -- would indicate that a five foot tall fifteen year-old who grew two inches in each of the last two years would at age forty be more than nine feet tall. However, use of analogy and comparison of what is known to happen in such cases bends trend projection toward reality.

Predictions based on the above methods do not often try to indicate a specific result at a given time. Rather, ranges of possible changes within alternative time frames are usually presented. Sometimes this is presented in terms of probability - for example, that there is an eighty to ninety percent chance that a given change will take place. Of course, some expected changes are more important than others, just as some are more probable than others. It is therefore possible to weigh the possibility of change against the importance of the change, in somewhat the following manner:

Possibility of Change Importance of Change
Impossible Catastrophic/Utopian
Barely possible Extremely important
Possible, but not probable Important
Probable Not very important
Very probable Unimportant
Almost certain Trivial

A result that will be extremely important deserves attention and action even if the possibility of its occurrence is not probable; conversely, a result that is almost certain to occur, but whose consequences will be trivial, does not call for concentrated planning or action.

Finally, what has been the track record of future predictions? Of the 134 inventions or changes envisioned by George Orwell in 1946 as occurring by 1984, over a hundred did indeed come to pass, and more have been added in the meantime. In an article in the1997 issue of The Futurist it was found that sixty eight percent of the predictions made thirty years ago had come true.

Not only is it possible to foretell changes, it is also possible to influence them. At the Conference of the International Council on Social Welfare, held in Jerusalem in 1998, representatives of four non-governmental worldwide organizations dedicated to change presented their methods of operation. These included UNICEF, which works through publicity and pressure; Greenpeace, which is an activist organization; the World Health Organization, which teaches, measures, and engages in start-up operations; and the International Monetary Fund, which uses financial pressure. There are many other organizations, such as those dedicated to saving endangered species and those opposed to child labor, that have had at least partial success in achieving change, and influencing the future.

In discussing change, I want to make a distinction between those that are referred to as developed, or industrialized, or urbanized countries, and those called developing, agricultural or rural. Although some changes, such as ecological ones, or globalization, or urbanization, affect every country; and although some problems, such as poverty and unemployment, are universal, the differences between the two worlds, so to speak, make it almost impossible to generalize about them. As one example, how could one compare English-speaking Australia, with its physical, social, economic, and governmental infrastructure one of the most advanced in the world, with its neighbor, Papua/New Guinea, with only five hundred thousand inhabitants and over seven hundred and fifty languages - one third of the world's total tongues? Papua/New Guinea has no electricity in the interior of the country, and transportation and communication difficulties are so great that it was not until 1936 that some groups saw non-Papuans for the first time. Therefore, this paper is primarily concerned with the developed nations, using the others only for purposes of comparison. Further, although I will separate out specific areas for heuristic purposes, in reality everything is connected to everything else. However, due to limits of time, space and your patience, I will necessarily limit myself to speaking about seven areas, all of them subsumed, for simplicity, under the letter "m." Maturity, mass movement, mandated behavior, materialism, modernization, mentality, but maybe not.

 

MATURITY

The future concerning the elderly is not just a guess. Those who are already old and those who will become old are alive, and their life expectancies can be predicted. As life expectancy continues to extend, due to improvements in sanitation, diet, medicine and housing, among other things, so will the number of the aged. In the sixteenth century B. C., life expectancy in Egypt was only fifteen years, primarily due to the high rate of infant deaths. In 1700, life expectancy in Europe was thirty-three years. In 1950, it was sixty-six years. In 1990, it was over seventy-four years. It is currently being predicted, more or less seriously, that normal life will soon end somewhere between one hundred twenty and one hundred thirty years. It should be noted that in the developing countries, men tend to live longer than women, whereas in the developed world, the reverse is true.

Of course, the age at which someone becomes elderly can only be drawn arbitrarily, and for most practical purposes this is considered to be the age at which pensions are paid. When Chancellor Bismarck established one of the first social security programs in Germany in the 1880s, he set age sixty-five as the personable age. Since not many people then lived to that age, the program was economically safe. In any case, sixty-five became and has remained the most popular age for the beginning of old age pensions in the developed countries, even though life expectancy has lengthened considerably in the meantime.

But these programs account for only twenty-eight percent of the old-age pension programs in the world. In developing countries, whose programs constitute seventy-one percent of the world's total, life expectancy is much shorter. In many African countries life expectancy may be as short as age thirty-three, as in Sierre Leone, or forty-one, in Guinea-Bassou, or forty-three, as in Burundi, Gambia and Swaziland. Consequently, sixty is the most common personable age in developing countries. However, thirty countries (mostly in Africa), or nineteen percent of the world total, pay pensions from age fifty-five. There are also some countries that begin paying pensions at age fifty, although this is often limited to the "prematurely aged," or people in hazardous occupations. A few programs pay pensions from age forty-five, but this is usually contingent upon actual retirement from employment or following a sustained period of unemployment. The only country in which retirement pay without conditions begins at age forty is the small Pacific island of Kiribati.

There are other interesting exceptions to the age factor. In Sri Lanka, a female employee who gets married is entitled to a pension, and in the Czech Republic, retirement age is proportionately lowered for women as they have a number of children. Generally speaking, however, there seems to be a linkage between life expectancy and retirement age.

Despite the fact that full pensions are paid to males at age sixty-five in the United States, almost seventy percent of American males have now retired early, and over ninety percent are currently giving up three years salary and twenty percent of their pensions for life by taking early retirement at age sixty-two. This raises some questions about counting the aged in society as only those sixty-five and older. Indeed, some organizations define the aged differently. The American Association of Retired Persons - the largest voluntary organization in the world -- accepts members from age fifty-five, as do Elderhostel study courses. There is even the humorous but telling characterization of the elderly as divided into four groups: the go-gos; the go-slows; the slow-slows; and the no-gos. In any case, if old age is considered to begin earlier than age sixty-five, then the number of the elderly in society today, and to be expected in the future, must be greatly enlarged.

Regardless of how they are defined, one of the major demographic changes in future society will be the growth of the older population, and most of them will be more healthy than they are today. This has many implications both from institutional and personal points-of-view. On one hand, many more years of non-working time for the healthy majority of the aged may result in an enormous increase in recreational activities. There has already been a steady increase in travel by the aged, including cruises, and many recreational firms and organizations are targeting the elderly as their best potential source of clients. There has also been an increase in educational opportunities for senior citizens, including the growth of programs such as Elderhostel in the United States, which hosted a quarter million people in two thousand sites throughout the world in 1998; and in Europe, programs such as TALIS (Third Age Learning International Studies); EAEA (European Association for the Education of Adults); and AEG (Association for Educational Gerontology). In short, insofar as economic problems are concerned, social workers may be little needed by the Woopies (Well Off Older Persons).

However, for some there will be problems associated directly with aging. For example, there are few programs to prepare people for what have been called "transformations of identity," of which retirement is one, and which for some people may be traumatic. Loss of a time schedule, estrangement from familiar people and places at work, sudden large increases in amounts of free time - all of these cause at least temporary problems for many people, and especially for workaholics. In addition, there may be difficulties arising from changes in the family constellation - i.e., from being the active head of the family to being just another member, or even becoming dependent on others.

These are the kinds of problems with which social workers will be increasingly concerned, with the added complication that such problems do not lend themselves well to the one-to-one social casework method in which many social workers have been trained, nor do psychiatric methods, which many social workers favor, offer much help. These problems revolve more around relationships and self-images, necessitating mutual support groups, self-help groups, and introduction to new areas of activity, such as overcoming fear of computers with which the elderly are said to be afflicted.

For the non-wealthy aged, however, problems of income maintenance may become more intense. As it is, the largest single group among the poor in most countries is the elderly population. Conversely, in some countries the majority of the aged are poor. For example, it is estimated that the proportion of older people with incomes less than sixty percent of the average income ranges from around six percent in the Netherlands and fifteen percent in Sweden to thirty-four percent in the United States and fifty-eight percent in Australia. As governments struggle with the problem of how to maintain promised pension payments in the face of growing beneficiaries and declining contributors, the very real fear of decreased pension payments causes anxiety among the elderly. The problem of government pensions will probably become more difficult, since no life insurance or pension problem in the world anticipated that people would live to age eighty or more. Indeed, the fastest growing group among the aged are the over-eighty-fives.

However, regardless of wealth, there are always personal and familial problems. Insofar as the latter are concerned, lengthening life expectancy is increasingly making an impact on families. There are, for example, three-generation families, and - increasingly - four and even five generation families. Three-generation families are sometimes referred to as "sandwich" families, since the parents are between the children and the grandparents, and may be caregivers for both. For the older family members, there may be further complications as their children (the parents of their grandchildren) remarry, either via divorce or widow(er)hood. The relationship to the "new" family members; their responsibility for them, in both financial and other terms; and their relationship to the other set or sets of grandparents becomes complicated. Then there are the "second chance" or "boomerang" grandparents, whose child, children, or grandchildren come back to live with them after a divorce or a death. Finally, in this area, there is the probability that children, and even grandchildren, will die before the grandparent does. This has been called, "the most distressing and long-lasting of all griefs - that for the loss of a grown child."

Sex among the elderly has never been a hot topic of conversation or of social work education, and efforts to introduce it usually evoke giggles and jokes. But, George Bernard Shaw was asked by a reporter on his eightieth birthday how it felt to be no longer interested in the opposite sex. His reply was: "I'll let you know." On a more serious note, marriage and remarriage among the elderly is now so common that two consequences have already been remarked.

One is the financial aspect. Pre-nuptial agreements that relieve the anxiety of the children on either side concerning inheritances are common. Further, more and more older couples are living together without formalizing the situation with a marriage. Some of this arises from the inheritance question, where laws arbitrarily give the surviving spouse a share of the estate; and some from the pension structure, whereby a couple receives less support than two single people, even if the latter are living together.

The other aspect of marriage among the elderly arises from the phenomenon noted previously, that women tend to outlive men. (Incidentally, one reason which has been advanced for this differential is the greater amount of cigarette smoking among men.) This means that the number of elderly widowers and divorced men will be much smaller than the number of widows and divorcees. At the end of this century, for every one hundred men over age sixty-five, there will be one hundred and fifty women. Among those over eighty-four, there will be 254 women for every hundred men. Fifty percent of all American women over sixty-five are widows, and nearly eighty percent of all married women will become widows.

A constantly growing number of older people, in which women progressively outnumber men, should lead to new societal living arrangements, the structure of which is so far difficult to perceive. Unfortunately, very little research and even less planning seems to be taking place in this area.

The health problem among the elderly is somewhat the same. Most of the elderly will be much healthier than their predecessors we, and for a much longer time. As medical science continues to progress, many of the ills afflicting the current elderly will be obviated or easily cured. For example, cataract operations which were once almost major surgery, followed by a long period in which the head could not be moved, has become an in-office procedure using non-invasive local anesthesia, laser beams and next-day recovery. Equal advances concerning other conditions will undoubtedly follow. However, to the extent that such progress is not made for those who suffer from long-term debilitating diseases, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and multiple sclerosis, there will continue to be need for care over much longer periods than in the past - twenty, thirty and even forty years. And as medical technology advances, so do health-care costs. It is not uncommon for people who have lived reasonably prosperous lives to have all of their assets wiped out by a long-term illness, or a complicated operation. This, despite the growth of health insurance schemes of various kinds, including programs like Medicare and Medicaid in the United States.

Given the expected increase in the number of the aged and in the number of those who will be needed to care for them, it is entirely unrealistic to believe that there will ever be enough social workers to fill these needs. Indeed, social workers are not even trained to do so, since these carers are basically engaged in activities of daily living, buying groceries, cooking meals, taking their clients for walks, perhaps pushing wheelchairs, and so forth.

Insofar as those who take care of the elderly are family members - most often the eldest daughter - there seems to come a time when the carer himself or herself needs care. With increasing frequency there has arisen the phenomenon of the family member who is caring for an elderly relative also becoming elderly - the seventy-year old daughter taking care of a ninety-year old mother, for instance - and needing care. Consequently, the job of social work in dealing with the elderly will become that of providing trainers, supervisors, and supporters of the carers, whether these be family members, volunteers, or paid helpers.

One relatively recent method of trying to deal with this problem of shortage of carers has been the growth of sheltered housing, or - as it is sometimes called - "assisted living," for the aged. People thus move into private rooms or apartments in sheltered housing while still comparatively young and healthy, and are offered the physical, social and medical support they need as they age. In Israel, the law requires that sheltered housing contain a nursing unit, but this is not true everywhere, and the fear of inhabitants is that they will have to leave if they become chronically ill. In addition, such housing is usually quite expensive, and although having much to commend it, is often not a good financial investment. However, at the moment over a million Americans live in thirty thousand assisted-living facilities, and more are built all the time.

Arising from sheltered housing there is now the option of sheltered neighborhoods. In these instances, people remain in their own homes, but there is a central administration, which provides household repairers, shoppers, drivers, laundry, etc., for the people in the neighborhood, as well as emergency switches and medical help.

Another growing trend is the use of paid carers who live with the older person in his or her own home, thus obviating the need to change locations, amenities, neighborhoods, etc. Many such carers are from developing - or, at least, less developed - countries. In Israel they are brought in legally, paid a minimum wage, and have the protection of the social welfare and legal systems. One result of the growth of this movement in Israel has been a decrease in demand for sheltered housing, and a consequent decrease in building it. Indeed, in many cases sheltered housing is now being offered on more and more attractive terms to meet the competition from foreign carers.

Part of the success in using live-in carers arises from the fact that people become very attached to their living quarters, neighborhoods, friends, and so forth, and have no desire to change locations unless absolutely necessary. Thus, the modal age for widows moving into assisted housing is seventy-nine. Nevertheless, in the future we can expect to find parents and their senior-citizen children living in the same retirement homes.

 

MASS MOVEMENT

The subject of foreign carers leads us to the subject of immigration, migration and refugees. Although there are commonalities among these categories, there are also substantial differences. Insofar as immigrants are concerned, their treatment ranges from the American experience, where there is no governmental body charged with this responsibility, to Australia, which has a well-developed and experienced network of governmental and voluntary services to aid immigrants. There is every reason to believe that immigration will continue to rise in the future, both from less prosperous to more prosperous countries, from regions subject to local conflicts to more secure surroundings, and from rural to urban areas.

In the United States, for example, there are almost a million legal immigrants a year, and almost half a million illegal immigrants. In 1970 five percent of the United States population was foreign-born, and today that has risen to ten percent. Migrants, too, have been and will continue to be imported from countries with large, poor populations into those with relatively wealthier citizens, especially as technology continues to bifurcate the working force between low-paying low-status jobs and well-paid upper-level jobs. The number of refugees will also continue to grow into the foreseeable future, as tribal and ethnic rivalries, riots and revolutions, and natural catastrophes force people from their homes. Although there are many differences in dealing with immigrants, migrants and refugees - some of which will be discussed below -- these three aspects of mass human movement have certain things in common, and one of these is how they are dealt with in the country in which they find themselves.

There are countries, which do not want or accept foreigners, or that restrict their entry numerically, or according to categories. This would have been true of Australia at one time, when no Orientals were allowed entry. It is still true to a certain extent of the United States, which has a numerical limit on new immigrants. And it is certainly true of countries closing their borders against refugees from nearby countries. Again, countries may accept refugees, but keep them confined in specific areas with no intention or attempt to absorb them.

 

IMMIGRANTS

However, insofar as legal immigration is concerned, there seem to be three major trends or ideologies concerning their absorption into the host country:

| Assimilation | Melting Pot | Cultural Pluralism |

The heading called assimilation, or absorption, or integration, has as its starting point and its goal the changing of all groups and individuals into representative members of the host community. This approach says, in effect, we are us and you are them and you have to become like us. Although the host community itself is invariably made up of segments, groups, and regions that differ from each other, the immigrant is subjected to social, legal, and sometimes physical pressure to fit in. Institutions, training courses, youth movements and other instruments of socialization, including the educational system, are all brought to bear for that purpose. The number of countries using this approach is so great that it isn't useful to try to list them.

The second approach says we are us and you are them, and we will influence each other and meld together to form a new all of us. This has been termed the melting pot theory, and although given lip-service in all of the United States, is best exemplified in Hawaii, with its mixture of native and imported cultures, and increasingly in Israel with Russian, Ethiopian, and Islamic cultures merging with the once-predominant European Anglo-Saxon elements.

The third approach, termed cultural pluralism, or multiculturalism, says we are us and you are them but we can all live peaceably side-by-side under some general rules. Switzerland, with its Italian, French, and German populations is an example.

You will recognize that I have been speaking about groups and cultures as though they were monolithic, and of course they aren't. In fact, in dealing with people generally, and not just with immigrants, it is well to remember Durkheim's famous dictum (and forgive the sexism implied - I am simply quoting): "Every man is like every other man; every man is like some other men; every man is like no other man."

This implies that each of these methods of absorption must be applied differently to each aspect of the other's culture, and sometimes to individuals. For example, take religion. Almost no country receiving immigrants requires that once in place, they convert to another religion. They may, it is true, place obstacles in the way of certain religious groups, or give privileges to others; and voluntary groups may encourage conversion, but change is neither a political, legal, nor social requirement. Similarly, few countries have experienced the birth of a syncretic religion made up of elements of the old and the new beliefs, although they may influence each other. Generally speaking, religion remains under the head of cultural pluralism.

| Assimilation | Melting Pot | Cultural Pluralism |
|__________| _________|______X_______| Religion

On the other hand, take driving practices:
Anyone who arrives from most of the other countries of the world to Britain, Ireland, Australia, and a few other (benighted) countries had better not demand respect for their cultural pluralistic way of driving. If they don't change immediately to driving on the left, they'll be dead wrong in more ways than one.

| Assimilation | Melting Pot | Cultural Pluralism |
|__________| _________|______X_______| Religion
|____X_____| _________|______________| Driving

Again, take language:
Learn English in New Zealand to get along, get around, get a job? Or learn English for the public while speaking the native tongue at home? Raise the children in English, or the native tongue, or both? Bilingual schools? Certain subjects in the native tongue? French-speaking schools? Arabic-speaking schools? Public or private? What languages? What is a language (think of the Ebonics argument in the United States)? These are not simple questions, and each answer reflects a belief system that may or may not be shared by or functional for the new immigrants:

| Assimilation | Melting Pot | Cultural Pluralism |
|__________| _________|______X_______| Religion
|____X_____| _________|______________| Driving
|____?_____| ____?____|______?________| Language

Or, take food: Doesn't the vast array of restaurants in Dubrovnik indicate the melting pot approach? But wait. Why do people from certain sections arrive in Dubrovnik, where sheep, cows, pigs and chickens are raised for food and slaughtered, and find themselves arrested for doing the same with dogs or cats? In Israel, importing non-kosher food is prohibited, and in some countries Moslems have trouble finding halal food. So even here there are weighty questions of custom, social pressure, laws, and human as well as animal rights to be dealt with.

| Assimilation | Melting Pot | Cultural Pluralism |

|__________| _________|______X_______| Religion
|____X_____| _________|______________| Driving
|____?_____| ____?____|______?________| Language
|__________| ____X____|______________| Food

The framework being discussed can be extended in a number of ways. For example, there is a time factor. What has to be changed immediately, like driving on the right? What should be given time to change, like learning a language? And how much time? What should be allowed or encouraged to remain, and for how long, if not forever?

Insofar as the time factor is concerned, a Swedish sociologist named Hansen, observing immigration into the United States in the 1930s, derived what is known as Hansen's Law:

"What the grandparents wanted to forget, the grandchildren want to remember."

In essence, this said that the first generation of immigrants wants so badly to melt into the new culture that consciously or unconsciously they try to cut themselves off from the culture of the old country. For the second generation it is easier, but they are still seen as the children of immigrants, and they have mannerisms, beliefs, and customs taken from their parents. The third generation, however, is so secure as part of the country in which they were born that they can begin to look for and at their ancestral roots without any fear that their identity will be questioned. What Hansen did not predict is that succeeding generations might even take fierce pride in their ethnic roots, leading to competition and conflict among the groups.

In summary, many aspects of immigrant culture involve very complicated questions of individual and group rights, familial structure and authority, ethics, and customs. For example, take the question of female circumcision, which in some cultures is almost a religious requirement, and abandonment of which is expected to lead to licentiousness and sexual promiscuity. Or, take hospitals and social work agencies in Hassidic communities, in which a man being alone with a woman other than his wife for any length of time and under any circumstances is forbidden. Such conflicts of culture, ethics, and human rights will continue to seize social workers for many generations to come.

 

MIGRANTS

Then there is the subject of migration - that is, movement into a country with the expectation, at least from one side, that the migrant will leave after a short or specified time. Most of the countries importing foreign laborers do not consider them as immigrants who will eventually become citizens, but as temporary workers who will leave when the need for their work diminishes. In fact, in many cases barriers are erected against the migrant's permanent settlement, such as sequestering his or her passport, or not renewing visas, not allowing families to join the workers in the host country and physically expelling the unwanted migrant.

As in many other cases, public and policy attitudes change with the changing nature of the migrant group. In Canada, "nannies" from Britain were almost coddled by law and by custom, but when such caretakers became Filipinas or Jamaicans, policy became more regressive.

Migrants face their own problems, brought on by their status. Earning more than they could in their home countries, and supporting their families reasonably well with their remittances, they are willing to and do endure many privations. For the most part they are considered outside the society of the host country, with very little amenities established for them. They may become extremely lonely. Many of them have almost no personal contact with the opposite sex, since the host population isolates and ignores them other than as workers. If they are not living-in carers, they often live in sub-standard conditions. In many cases they are exploited by their employers; are denied many of the protections given citizens; and may benefit from no social services, including health insurance, unemployment compensation or old-age pensions. The plight of the migrant in Canada, for example, has been summarized as "unpaid overtime work, sexual harassment, alienation/isolation from society, and quality of room and board." Few governmental bodies and even fewer volunteer organizations are concerned about the condition of migrant workers. As social services become increasingly privatized, it is probable that migrants will lose even more of whatever governmental services and protection they now enjoy.

 

REFUGEES

The definition of a refugee - as distinct from that of an immigrant or a migrant - is, according to the United Nations: "Those who have fled their countries because of well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group, and who cannot or do not want to be returned."

It would be exceedingly presumptuous of me to attempt to explain the problems of refugees or their situations in the setting in which we find ourselves. However, as deep and as painful as the situation is here in Croatia and in neighboring countries, the problem is worldwide. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that there are about fifty million victims of forced displacement, of whom only twenty-two million are under the aegis of the Commissioner. In fact, one in every two hundred sixty four people in the world is a refugee. There are estimated to be about twenty million persons displaced in their own lands. Among other distinctions as concerns refugees, there are asylum seekers, economic migrants, refugees sur place, and stateless persons, and there are conditions under which one ceases to be a refugee. Each of these definitions or situations requires differential handling, different social policies, and different methods of practice.

The three methods by which the UN attempts to solve the refugee problem - in addition to caring for them while they are refugees - are repatriation, integration, and resettlement. Repatriation involves returning to the country from which one came. Integration means staying in the place of refuge as a permanent solution. Resettlement consists of settling refugees in a third country - not the one from which they came and not the one in which they found refuge.

The attitude of refugees' host countries is often schizophrenic. Refugees have their usefulness, as cheap labor, as workers willing to undertake unpleasant tasks, as scapegoats for social problems, and - in some cases - as bringing desirable social attributes. On the other hand, they are seen as a foreign element in many senses of that term, they require massive amounts of aid that could be used for other purposes, and they threaten to change the social fabric in many ways.

This may be illustrated by the fact that recently, in England, a famous TV comedy program called Comic Relief undertook a fund drive - called, incidentally, Red Nose Day - to aid refugees. The public was prepared to participate in the effort until it became known that the funds were to be used to help refugees settle in England, rather than to repatriate them. The result was a widespread public discussion, bordering on hysteria in some cases, as to whether the refugees were to become part of England, or were only temporary boarders, so to speak.

In any case, policy-makers in many parts of the world will have to grapple with the fact that refugees have become a permanent problem, and that social policy as it is now constituted will need to deal with masses of people who may not want to be where they are, and who are also not wanted there.

 

MANDATED BEHAVIOR

One of the growing phenomena in the world, and one that seems destined to continue into the future, is the question of religiously-mandated behavior.

Although there are ethnic and national differences which are not related to religion - for example, Moslems in Iraq and Moslems in Iran, or Christian Arabs in Lebanon and Christians in South Korea - much ethnicity, especially during recent events, has been almost synonymous with religious identification. Meeting where we are, I am sure I do not have to belabor this point.

The growth of religious fundamentalism, in particular, has many implications for the future of domestic and international peace. For social work practice, the difficulties are clear. As inter-religious confrontation and conflict take place, the traditional methods of conflict resolution become more irrelevant. When an individual or a group feels that God has told them what they must do in order to avoid being sinners or to escape the flames of eternal damnation, there is little that the familiar social work methods of conciliation, compromise, cooperation, coordination, or co-optation can accomplish when these behaviors lead to conflict with individuals or groups that believe and behave differently. Even more difficult is the situation where not only has a group been told what they must do, but when they sincerely believe that Paradise will not be gained; that the Messiah will not come; that the Kingdom of God will not be established on earth, until everyone else behaves as they do, or as they would like them to. They are therefore driven by inner conviction, religious teachings and peer pressure to dictate others' behaviors, if not their beliefs. As noted in the sixteenth century life of Thomas More, "His opponents were genuinely following their consciences, while more considered them the harbingers of the devil's reign on earth. How could there be moderation in any confrontation between them?"

This raises a congeries of questions for social work and social work education. How much should be taught about religious beliefs and practices? Of which groups? Is there a core set of values and behaviors for all groups? Should there be separate schools or separate curricula for adherents of different religions? Are there methods of conflict resolution not yet tried? The role of social policy and social work practice in this area needs a great deal more thought.

 

MATERIALISM

POVERTY

Poverty may be defined in various ways. These include absolute measures, such as the poverty line based on dollar amounts in the United States; relative measures, as used in Australia, or subjectively, as to the extent that people feel themselves deprived. Poverty definitions may include or exclude assets; or may be descriptive, such as the "socially deprived," or "excluded." The United Nations defines poverty as a condition of life limited by malnutrition, illiteracy, disease, squalid surroundings, high infant mortality, and low life expectancy.

Differences in definitions of poverty will, of course, result in different figures. In the United States, poverty may be seen to range between ten and twenty-three percent, depending upon what is included or excluded as income. Despite such differences in definitions, however, poverty in the industrialized urbanized countries ranges from seven to twenty-five percent of the population, with most countries experiencing ten to fifteen percent poverty. In the developing world, the range is from forty to seventy percent -- all of these according to the poverty definitions used by the countries themselves.

One fifth of humanity lives in extreme poverty, and the percentage of the population in developing countries below the poverty line is around thirty percent. Up to forty percent of the world population may be defined as poor, if poverty is measured according to whether they have a standard of living that includes adequate food, safe and sufficient supplies of water, secure shelter and access to education and health care.

The single largest group in poverty in most countries is the aged, as mentioned above. The other largest groups are single parents, children, the working poor, and the unemployed. The most often-used measure to attempt to reduce poverty is income supplementation, usually through a social welfare program. The next most popular - or most popularly discussed - is job creation or otherwise reducing unemployment. Given the fact that three of the largest groups in poverty are the aged and children (both of whom are out of the labor force); and people who are poor despite the fact that they are working, employment is - by definition - a very partial antidote for poverty.

Although poverty is usually thought of exclusively in terms of lack of money - and this is, indeed, the root of many other problems - there are other indices. Half of the world's population does not have access to a decent toilet, and that number is growing. Thirty percent of American children have never seen a dentist (and this should not be taken to mean that their teeth are so good they don't need to). The ills attributable to this kind of "belly-gripping, face-grinding" poverty include drug addiction, crime, vandalism and family abuse.

Although many populous places in the world experience poverty, this is not in itself caused by large populations. For example, world population has been rising since the memory of man runneth not to the contrary.

It took from the beginning of the world until the advent of the years called A.D. for the world population to reach a quarter of a billion. By 1650 the world population had doubled to half a billion. In 1850, the billion mark was reached. It took only another eighty years (1930) for the population to reach two billion. In another thirty years (1960), it had reached three billion, and fifteen years later (1975) the population was four billion. The latest population figures indicate a world population of about six billion.

Population growth in and of itself has been the cause of many problems - crowdedness, homelessness, urbanization, and destitution, among others. It has not, however, been the cause of hunger. Agricultural productivity has risen faster than population rates. For example, in 1776 one farmer produced food for three people. In 1976, one farmer produced food for fifty-seven people. Hunger is due to political, economic and logistical reasons, rather than due to food shortages.

What seems to be the future of poverty? To quote a recently-published article, "Poverty has a rich future." The growth of globalization, privatization, and what has been called the "market-driven society" all serve to polarize the economy into the very rich and the very poor. It is a common assumption that as a society prospers, all of the citizens gain, although perhaps not in proportionate amounts. This has been expressed in a number of ways. For example, "You can't distribute poverty," or "What is good for General Motors is good for the country," or - more recently - "A rising tide raises all the boats." However, experience indicates that the rising tide contains a vicious undertow that pulls many people under - especially those without boats.

A few examples: In the 1980s, for every person in the United States who joined the middle class, two joined the group of the poor. For every seventy-dollar increase in income among the richest twenty percent in the United States between 1979 and 1989, the poorest twenty percent lost a dollar. In the United Kingdom during the same period, for every five thousand pounds sterling increase among the upper twenty percent, the lowest ten percent lost two hundred pounds. From 1978 to 1987 the income of the top fifth of the population in the United States increased by thirteen percent, while that of the bottom fifth declined by eight percent. In 1960 a family of three in the United State with a full-time worker making the minimum wage would have been lifted above the poverty line. In 1990, that same family would be living $2000 below the poverty line.

On a global basis, whereas in 1960 the richest twenty percent of the world population had incomes thirty times greater than the poorest twenty percent, by 1990 this had grown to sixty percent greater, when measured between countries. When the gap is measured within countries, the income of the richest twenty percent is one hundred fifty times greater than that of the poorest. In short, not only is the income gap growing throughout the world, but the "trickle down" theory must, in all honesty, give way to the "bubble up" theory of economics. Stated in almost Marxist terms, the rich get richer by making the poor poorer.

 

GLOBALIZATION

One of the ways by which the rich get richer is through growing globalization. A number of factors have lead to the process called "globalization." As large corporations began diversifying their products and services by buying up smaller enterprises -- usually for stock market, income tax or other financial benefits - they became conglomerates. By then merging with similar -- often overseas -- conglomerates, they became huge international entities known as MNCs (Multinational Companies). The economic breakdown of the Soviet Union gave further impetus to globalization as many foreign firms hurried to establish units there. Free trade agreements of various kinds further supported this process. Even the partial integration of Europe and the introduction of the Euro makes business across former boundaries easier, and consequently, "MNCs are increasingly organizing production and service provisions on an international basis."

Incidentally, it should be recognized that globalization is not confined to industry. The imported carers mentioned above, the movement of migrant workers, and business conducted on the Internet, are all examples of non-industrial globalization.

It can be and has been argued that globalization offers end result benefits to the populations of the world by providing cheaper goods and services than would be possible if operations were confined to one country. Additionally, as global firms move their operations to wherever costs are lower, they may raise the economic level of that area by providing jobs and other amenities. Thus, the advent of a branch of any global industry or service is usually welcomed by the inhabitants of the region being entered.

On the down side, however, the rationale for most globalization is acquisition of cheaper labor in both the service and the industrial areas. Whether this is seen as exploitative or beneficial may rest on the circumstances, but the decision to move or to stay is based purely upon the expected bottom line. These decisions, driven by stockholders' demands for profits, do not take into account any humanistic, altruistic, ecological or other considerations. If, as Justice Brandeis once remarked, "Corporations have no souls," MNCs have no consciences. In their pursuit of profits, they may and do adopt H. W. Vanderbilt's famous dictum: "The public be damned." Movement out of a region or area may be consummated with no discussion, no concern for the unemployment thus created or the problems caused.

Lack of accountability, combined with profitability as the only goal, may lead to other anti-social activities by MNCs, such as use of child labor, ignoring minimum wage laws, and bribery of local officials. For example, global corporations that proudly proclaim they are equal opportunity employers in the United States appear on other nations' and international lists of discriminators.

Since there is no international authority capable of initiating laws governing these activities, and much less of compelling obedience to them, global companies must be tried for such offenses in each country in which they operate, and can often simply uproot themselves and move elsewhere if such actions become too annoying or too costly. For example, despite the now-accepted fact that cigarettes are detrimental to health, and despite the heavy fines levied on some companies in the United States, there is no international authority that can stop such companies from attempting to entice young people, or people in developing areas, to smoke. In Papua/New Guinea, as one instance, the only billboards found along rural roads are those advertising foreign cigarettes.

Consequently, the future will probably see much movement and instability, as lower cost conditions are exploited in one place, and then moved to another when costs begin to rise, or another location proves cheaper. Further, In order to entice companies to stay in their area, local governments may offer inducements that include use of non-union labor, tax benefits, subsidies, lowered minimum wages, non-enforcement of ecological regulations, and other legal and semi-legal methods of cutting corners.

By the unremitting search for the lowest possible costs in material and labor, regardless of other considerations, globalization enriches the haves and exploits the have-nots, leading to greater and greater economic disparities in society.

 

PRIVATIZATION

A corollary of globalization is privatization. Indeed, the two seem synergistic, each feeding on the other. Privatization, of course, is the turning over of governmental services to non-governmental bodies, which are then free to become MNCs.. These may be for-profit companies, or not-for-profit voluntary groups. The term NGO for any non-governmental organization is more generic, whereas VNPO specifies a voluntary not-for-profit organization.

The reason usually given for the privatization of previously governmental-offered services is efficiency and/or effectiveness, but that is most often a rationalization - that is, a good reason in place of the real reason. Privatization of government functions is undertaken to relieve the government of a financial burden, and with it, responsibility for the service. As Kramer, et al, report: Through privatization, "The State has been able to off-load or shed unwanted, expensive, sensitive, controversial functions."

Sometimes, however, privatization may arise from other reasons. While the state is more adept at striving for uniformity and equity in services, there may be occasions when the need for a body able to be more responsive to cultural and religious differences is the reason for divestment of a governmental function.

Privatization may take many forms. One method is for the government to give up a monopoly and allow competition. For example, In Israel, private employment agencies were illegal until a few years ago, and matching people with jobs was done by a government department. Since giving up the restriction on private employment services, many agencies have come into existence. With them, have come sharp practices. For example, rather than matching people with jobs, some agencies hire the people, and then "lend-lease" them to other employers on a temporary basis. The employee thus has no permanence, no seniority, and no chance of advancement in the firm for which he or she is working, and -- being temporary - often no pension plan or unemployment insurance. Nor can the worker bargain with the employer for better salaries or conditions, since he or she doesn't work for the firm.

In other cases, the government may sell off some of its services, retain some, and compete with the private sector. The clearest example of this is seen when the government operates radio stations and sells some but continues to operate one or more. Again, privatization may involve selling stock to the public of a previously-government service, as England did when privatizing its railway system. Often, however, privatization means the government selling a company previously run by itself - armament manufacturing, hospitals, railways, and even - in some countries - the prison system. There have also been experiments in privatizing the educational system.

That such selling-off will provide governments with money and relieve them of further financial responsibility is the most-offered reason offered for privatization. Nevertheless, it emerges that the government may subsidize voluntary organizations to undertake previous government functions to the extent that no savings are effected. Indeed, where the public social services are concerned, no country has found a practical replacement for public financing. Since social welfare programs are so closely linked to the economic climate, one can understand Macarov's maxim regarding social welfare: "When we need it, we can't afford it. When we can afford it, we don't need it."

The second argument often advanced for privatization - that private industry is more efficient and effective than government services - is open to serious question.

If efficiency is separated from effectiveness, it is possible to push it to new heights. The Minute Waltz can be played in fifty seconds; interview time for social workers can be limited; hospital beds can be emptied by sending sick people home, and so forth. But when effectiveness is held constant, and private versus public auspices are compared, such generalities prove too vague. In a study of homes for the aged, conducted in England, it was found that the government was more efficient and effective in managing large establishments, but that small establishments were best run by the private sector. However, the researchers also uncovered the reason for the differences. The small homes were often run as a Mom-and-Pop operation, with the owners paying help less than the minimum wage, and with the owners themselves working up to ninety-six hours a weeks without pay, so to speak, so that their labor costs were not included in the statistics.

There is, in fact, very little research in which effectiveness is held constant, and efficiency is measured. "Because there is very little empirical, tested knowledge?policy questions are often resolved largely on grounds of expediency, or on the basis of questionable assumptions regarding the virtues of non-government organizations."

One immediate effect of privatization that can be very personal for some participants here can be the dismissal of occupational social workers. The number of social workers in industry in Slovenia dropped from four hundred to eighty as soon as privatization took place. Social workers who remain in privatized settings may find themselves in dilemmas not unknown up to now; that is, dealing with the unhappiness of workers set against the profit-motive of the owners; or, more generally, operating under the aegis or supervision of non-professionals who do not share our goals, values, and methods.

In the final analysis, there is an ideology underlying privatization. It is an assumption dating back to Adam Smith, if not further, that everyone competing against everyone else is not only efficient, leading to high quality and low prices, but that it is moral and desirable. In this ideology there is no room for humanity, altruism, sacrifice or friendship in the economic world. It holds that people are guided only by their own economic considerations - in other words that greed is guide, goal and God.

This view has led to what has been called the market-driven economy, which is rapidly becoming the market-driven society. As the world becomes incorporated, privatized and globalized, we return to the world of the Social Darwinists: The ambitious, brave and capable will rise to the top, and the rest will deserve their fate for that is the rule of nature. You will recognize that this is the rule of the jungle, not of society.

Finally, in this connection, the unresolved questions as to what is best done by government, by voluntary organizations, and by profit-seeking firms has led to a good deal of writing, but less research, as to the proper welfare mix. This search is likely to continue for some time into the future, but the major trend will be a divestment of governmental services wherever possible, whether onto voluntary or private market providers. It is very difficult to foresee governments re-assuming responsibility for those areas from which they have recently exited.

 

MODERNIZATION
TECHNOLOGY


Now we come to the wild card. The future of technology and - more important - the effects of technology are almost unpredictable. There are those who see technology as making life easier, more prosperous and happier; and those who see civilization, if not humankind, wiped out by technology.

If we look back, however, to the past of technology, we may get some hints of the future. Technology as we think of it today may be said to have begun in 1713 when a twelve-year-old boy named Humphrey Potter added a homemade device to Newcomen's steam engine, thus causing the machine to regulate itself. The subsequent growth of technology - including the Industrial Revolution -- was so rapid that early in the nineteenth century a bill was introduced in the British Parliament to do away with the patent office, because everything conceivable had already been invented.

Although one of the results of modern technology has been an increase in pleasurable activities, such as computer games, e-mail correspondence and ease of mathematical calculations, perhaps one of its greatest influences on human well-being is the constant decrease in hours of work. Hours of work have been decreasing since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

In 1900 people worked fifty-three hours per week. In 1979 this was down to thirty-five point five; in 1986, thirty four point eight; in 1994, this was down to thirty-four point four hours. There are annual fluctuations, but the long-term trend is always downwards. On the other hand, this downturn in the hours of work does not indicate less productivity. In 1950 American individuals produced $5,000 of the Gross National Product; in 1975, $16,000; now, about $85,000; and it is estimated that by the year 2100 that figure will be five million dollars. Further, it is estimated that in 1850 people used thirteen percent of their energy at work and today that figure is less than one percent.

Consequently, one of the most hotly debated items when discussing future social policy is whether or when we will reach a point where the great majority of the work is done by a small minority of the people. Were that to happen, the question of how people would be supported, if not through their own work, is challenging. Even today those who are out of the labor force for various reasons, or those who cannot find employment, are excluded from social security programs. Eighty-nine percent of sickness and maternity programs; 88% of old age programs; 67% of family and children's programs; and, of course, 100% of workmen's compensation and unemployment programs, are only for workers.

Many ingenious suggestions have been made concerning the support of non-workers when almost no work will be available, but in essence, a new social paradigm will be required to underpin the human condition. Unfortunately, very few planners or researchers are preparing for such a future, partly because it is unprecedented, and partly because socialization concerning the morality of work is so widespread and so deep that it seems almost heretical or blasphemous to question it.

Technology will have many other impacts on the human condition, some of which are already evident in education, leisure, and relationships. How many youngsters, who are now on the Internet and exchanging e-mail letters would have spent as much time writing to their peers and their elders, if they had to pick up a pen and paper, or even use a typewriter? How many would even have heard of some of the ideas - good, bad and debatable - that they now find on the web?

Indeed, the future impact of technology in general, and computers in particular, is so uncertain that no general predictions can be made. However, the growth of computer use is almost certain to continue. In fact, it has been predicted that manufacturers will soon give computers away in order to increase sales of software, and of advertising on the web.

Although the totality of the influence of technology on society in the future is unpredictable, there are trends, possibilities and probabilities with which current social thinkers and planners must come to grips if chaos is to be avoided.

As this entire paper has indicated, there are specific areas, which can be predicted with some certainty, others for which predictions are chancier, and some which cannot be predicted with surety, except that they will be transformed. There are also a number of very important future situations that are not explored here due to limitations of space and time.

These include, but are not limited to, the spread of AIDS. In some countries, mostly in Africa, it is reported that over half the population is infected with the HIV virus, and the number is growing. Another area not mentioned here is the spread of the drug culture, ranging from the relatively harmless, such as betel nut chewing and tobacco use, to personality-erasing heroin, cocaine and crack. Finally, the growth of lone parenthood should also be mentioned as a current and probably future phenomenon.

Then there are the great unknowns. For example, the impact that genetic engineering - in all its phases - will have on the world, or the impact of ecological changes, such as the loss of biodiversity and its results.

 

MENTALITY

It remains to be noted that in addition to such individual shifts and causes of change, many widespread social changes take place because of almost invisible and unpredictable transformations in human attitudes. The end of colonialism, the student and youth movements of the sixties; growing awareness of gender inequalities; the giving up of some manifestations of xenophobia, as exemplified by the emergence of United Europe; and - conversely - growing religion-ethnicity, are some examples.

Most recently, the demise of the Communist system gave rise to a new materialism, based on the capitalist system, in which profit is accepted as the only real - and desirable - motivation in human life. The implications of this ideology have already exhibited themselves in the globalization, privatization, and economic gap mentioned previously. However, there are those who see benefits arising from this ideology.

Maybe not Singer, for one, holds that the desire for more material goods has brought about and - the long run -- will continue to cause a reduction in birth rates, as families opt for fewer children and more material goods for themselves and for the children. This will result in a smaller world population, with both positive and negative implications. On the one hand, there will be a smaller pool from which to draw talented, experienced, creative people. On the other hand, there will be less drain on natural resources.

Singer also points out that although the typical person in the world today lives at the level of people in South Asia, in another century he or she will live in a world comparable to South Europe -- a level which is only 50% of the American level, but which will be a very large improvement over the current situation. Most of the changes predicted by Singer will arise from changes in attitudes, brought about by more education, more widespread communication, better health, and more personal contact with others, and not from organizing, agitating, legislating and actively promoting change.

 

CONCLUSION

Change is the only thing certain. Whether the ill-effects can be alleviated, and/or the positive effects accentuated, depends in large measure not only on how well we can predict the changes, but what we can and will do to influence them. Let us hope that we will not be like Herodotus, who said: "The bitterest of all griefs (is) to see clearly and yet be unable to do anything."

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Copyright for the I.U.C. Journal of Social Work Theory and Practice is owned by the Social Work Program, Department of Social Relations and Services, Bemidji State University, Bemidji, Minnesota, USA. One copy may be made (printed) for personal use; teachers may make multiple copies for student use if the copies are made available to students without charge. Permission must be secured from the editors for sale of any copies of articles or for any commercial use of the material published in the Journal.

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