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Social Diagnosis

Social Diagnosis

MARY E. RICHMOND
Copyright Date: 1944
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 512
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7758/9781610446808
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  • Book Info
    Social Diagnosis
    Book Description:

    Social Diagnosisis the classic in social work literature. In it Miss Richmond first established a technique of social casework. She discusses the nature and uses of social evidence, its tests and their practical application, and summarizes the lessons to be learned from history, science, and the law. While other aids in diagnosis have been added to the caseworker's equipment, the assembling of social evidence is still an important discipline of the profession, to which this volume continues to make a significant contribution. No revision of the book has ever been made nor does any later book take its place.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-680-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. PREFACE
    (pp. 5-12)
    Mary E. Richmond
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. 13-22)
  4. PART I SOCIAL EVIDENCE

    • CHAPTER I BEGINNINGS
      (pp. 25-37)

      THOUGH the social worker has won a degree of recognition as being engaged in an occupation useful to the community, he is handicapped by the fact that his public is not alive to the difference between going through the motions of doing things and actually getting them done. “Doing good” was the old phrase for social service. It begged the question, as do also the newer terms, “social service” and “social work”—unless society is really served. We should welcome, therefore, the evident desire of social workers to abandon claims to respect based upon good intentions alone; we should meet...

    • CHAPTER II THE NATURE AND USES OF SOCIAL EVIDENCE
      (pp. 38-50)

      THE processes which lead up to social diagnosis and thence to the shaping of a plan of social treatment may be divided into the collection of evidence and the drawing of inferences there-from. The collection of evidence comes through the social worker’s first relations (1) with his client,¹ (2) with his client’s family, and (3) with sources of insight outside the family group. These stages will all be described in detail in Part II, as will also the further stage (4) of comparing the evidence gathered from these various sources (inference), and of interpreting its meaning (diagnosis).

      From the beginning...

    • CHAPTER III DEFINITIONS BEARING UPON EVIDENCE
      (pp. 51-63)

      THE first interview with one needing treatment, the early contacts with his immediate family, the consultations with those outside his family who may give insight or co-operation, the examination of any documents bearing upon his problem, the later correlation of these separate items—all these processes of social case work are steps in what we hope will be a helpful course of action. They lead up through social diagnosis to a plan of treatment. The relation of diagnosis to this practical end cannot be too much insisted upon. Before turning to the discussion of this relation in present-day case work...

    • CHAPTER IV TESTIMONIAL EVIDENCE
      (pp. 64-80)

      AFTER an historian has established the genuineness and authorship of a document, his next care is to discover the competence and bias of the man who made it; to go back, in short, to the testimonial evidence, the human assertions, on which the document is based. The following passage summarizes many of the queries suggested by Langlois and Seignobos¹ in their discussion of the tests of an author’s good faith and accuracy. Questions of legal competency aside, it will be seen that, with slight variations, these tests would apply to the competence and bias of any witness. They are most...

    • CHAPTER V INFERENCES
      (pp. 81-100)

      FORMAL treatment of the processes of reasoning is not within the scope of this book. The application of those processes to social diagnosis, however, will appear in brief illustrations of ways in which a case worker’s inferences (justifiable or not), his conscious or unconscious assumptions, and his predispositions help or hinder his diagnosis of a client’s situation. An understanding of a client’s difficulties, like any advance in knowledge, comes from the interplay of two methods; namely, that of direct testimony to facts in his life—treated in the two preceding chapters—and that of inference from these facts to others...

  5. PART II THE PROCESSES LEADING TO DIAGNOSIS

    • CHAPTER VI THE FIRST INTERVIEW
      (pp. 103-133)

      WE TURN now to the details of social case work method. It will be necessary to remember that in any art the description of its processes is necessarily far more clumsy than are the processes themselves. In the last analysis moreover, the practitioner of an art must discover the heart of the whole matter for himself—it is of the essence of art that he shall win his way to this personal revelation; but an intimate knowledge of the successes and failures, the experiences and points of view of his fellow practitioners will be found to be essential too. The...

    • CHAPTER VII THE FAMILY GROUP
      (pp. 134-159)

      A DISCUSSION of theories of society and of the organization of the family is no part of the plan of this book. The social worker’s convictions about the family, even when they are those of the extreme feminist Left or of the extreme reactionary Right, will be clarified and to some extent modified, however, by a type of case work which follows wherever the facts and the best interests of his clients lead. It is true that his theories will influence his work, but more and more, if he is in earnest, will his work influence his theories. Our only...

    • CHAPTER VIII OUTSIDE SOURCES IN GENERAL
      (pp. 160-179)

      REASONS for turning not only to a client’s family group for insight and advice but to Outside Sources have been suggested earlier. The chief reason for seeking this further help is that, to be constructively useful, we must be able to break through the narrow circle of the client’s own view of his situation, and the narrow circle also of our own prepossessions and favorite modes of procedure. We cannot afford to adopt either of these circumscribed boundaries, because none of us lives on a desert island.

      Can our client’s affairs ever be regarded as ready for social treatment when...

    • CHAPTER IX RELATIVES AS SOURCES
      (pp. 180-203)

      AS BETWEEN the different forms of social case work, it will be seen that, in the first city (where such comparisons could be most safely made), the suburban and the city charity organization society consulted with 35 and 36 Relatives respectively in their 50 cases each, the general private relief society with 39, the public outdoor relief department with 42, the society to protect children from cruelty with 51, the city and state departments for care of children with 68 and 44 respectively, three child-placing agencies with 89, 44, and 48 respectively, a reform school with 26, a children’s institution...

    • CHAPTER X MEDICAL SOURCES
      (pp. 204-220)

      IF, ON the basis of the social case work records then available for study, this book had been written fifteen years ago, it would probably have been found that the outside source of information consulted oftener than relatives even was employers. But there has been a shifting of interest from data about earnings and occupation to data about health and disease. All of these groups of facts are closely interrelated, of course, and the change is merely one of emphasis. So marked is it, however, that there may be need later of new emphasis upon another group of sources to...

    • CHAPTER XI SCHOOLS AS SOURCES
      (pp. 221-234)

      HERE are sources of information that seem to have been imperfectly used as yet by social workers. It is true that many of the agencies studied consult school officials (they were consulted 687 times in the 2,800 cases already referred to), but an examination of the individual items seems to show that both family agencies and those for the care of dependent children do not confer with educators often enough.¹ The children’s agencies have many charges that are under school age, but, even after allowing for this, consultations with School Sources are too infrequent, if the statistics at hand are...

    • CHAPTER XII EMPLOYERS AND OTHER WORK SOURCES
      (pp. 235-252)

      EVERY period of the world’s history is a period of transition, of course, yet the institutions with which the social worker has to deal seem to be changing at a far more rapid rate in our own day than in any other. Developments that have been continuous but hidden are now at last bearing visible fruit. In the hospital, the school, and the workshop reorganizations are in process that should soon make the doctor, the teacher, and the Employer more effective agents of social advance and better witnesses in the gathering of social evidence than they have ever been. The...

    • CHAPTER XIII DOCUMENTARY SOURCES
      (pp. 253-272)

      A STUDENT of social work would find it an illuminating exercise to make a list of the numerous places in which some one or more of the facts of his own life are on record, and then examine the entries, in so far as this is possible. He would find that the most personal of these, such as the date of his birth, his standing in school, his inheritance, purchase, or transfer of certain forms of property, his marriage, his fatherhood, the deaths of those dear to him, are matters of public record; and that in many professional and business...

    • CHAPTER XIV NEIGHBORHOOD SOURCES
      (pp. 273-283)

      WE come now to a group of sources that, measured by their value to the diagnostician, are on a lower plane than any that have yet been discussed. Neighborhood evidence is often the synonym for gossip and inaccuracy. There are situations in which the testimony of a present neighbor may be indispensable, but in social work these are the exception, and no fact could better illustrate the crudity of much of our social treatment than the discovery that, at the time that our statistics of outside sources were gathered, present neighbors were found to be more frequently consulted in one...

    • CHAPTER XV MISCELLANEOUS SOURCES
      (pp. 284-291)

      THIS review of outside sources of information and their uses is nearing its conclusion. One of the most important sources of all is the social agencies themselves, but treatment of this source has been reserved for the next chapter for reasons there explained. The other sources to which no attention has yet been given fall into three groups: (1) public departments not directly engaged in social work, (2) business sources other than employers and neighborhood tradesmen, (3) fraternal orders. None of these requires very extended notice.

      It was hoped that even a limited inquiry into the outside sources now being...

    • CHAPTER XVI SOCIAL AGENCIES AS SOURCES
      (pp. 292-316)

      WITH some of us the team sense, which is the psychological basis of co-operation in social work, never extends beyond a rather mechanical and listless “belonging”; with others it develops and attunes every faculty. The team, according to Joseph Lee, “is created by assuming that it exists and acting boldly out from that assumption. It grows as its members have power to imagine it and faith to maintain, and act upon, the reality of that which they have imagined.”¹ All co-operation is primarily an act of faith. It implies vision, trust, and a common goal.

      Though this theme is an...

    • CHAPTER XVII LETTERS, TELEPHONE MESSAGES, ETC.
      (pp. 317-341)

      OUR review of outside sources is ended, but before leaving this part of our subject for an analysis of the last stage of all in the processes leading to diagnosis, there are certain things to be said about the various means of communication with outside sources and the relative uses to which these means may be put. Of the statements procured by different means, which ones (other things being equal) are most satisfactory—those that are (a) written replies to the questions on a form or schedule, (b) written replies to letters, (c) telephone replies to questions asked by telephone,...

    • CHAPTER XVIII COMPARISON AND INTERPRETATION
      (pp. 342-364)

      WE come now to the fourth and last of what for convenience we have defined as the stages leading to diagnosis. Workers will continue, in many cases, to find their way to a correct and sufficiently amplified diagnosis without consciously arranging the preliminary steps in groups, but in cases presenting difficulties they will find this separation and the further analysis attempted in this chapter an aid to thinking. The processes already described have been (I) the first full interview with a client, (2) the early contacts with his immediate family, (3) the search for further insight and for sources of...

    • CHAPTER XIX THE UNDERLYING PHILOSOPHY
      (pp. 365-370)

      ALTHOUGH mention has been made more than once in earlier chapters of the interdependence of individual and mass betterment, it will not be amiss, in bringing this long discussion of the diagnostic process to a close, to re-enforce briefly the position already taken that social reform and social case work must of necessity progress together. We have seen, for example, that the diagnostic side of case work received a great impetus when the plans of reformers began to be realized, and that social work immediately had at its command more varied resources than it could apply without further knowledge of...

  6. PART III VARIATIONS IN THE PROCESSES

    • CHAPTER XX SOCIAL DISABILITIES AND THE QUESTIONNAIRE PLAN OF PRESENTATION
      (pp. 373-381)

      WHEN the case worker has gone only a short distance in his preliminary inquiries, or sometimes at a later period, he discovers a certain disability or a combination of disabilities. What are the implications of his discovery? How should it modify his method? By what means can a large number of possible modifications be indicated and made accessible for reference when needed? This, next to the discussion of evidence, has been the most difficult problem with which the present study has had to deal. Our discussion of the methods and points of view common to all social diagnosis is ended,...

    • CHAPTER XXI THE IMMIGRANT FAMILY
      (pp. 382-394)

      THE RECENT immigrant has been mentioned a number of times in these chapters in connection with such topics as the “funded thought” of peasant witnesses, the attitude of the alien toward our social agencies, the search for data in foreign birth records, in immigration records, etc. These comments will not be repeated; they can be readily referred to with the aid of the index. Passages in earlier pages bearing upon topics discussed in the chapters which follow are made available in the same way.

      In dealing with foreign clients, the case worker finds himself in danger of falling into one...

    • CHAPTER XXII DESERTION AND WIDOWHOOD
      (pp. 395-404)

      THE situation of the mother whose children have been deserted by their father and that of the widowed mother with children present some superficial resemblances. An early stage in the development of social treatment—one dominated by emergencies and by surface symptoms—usually leaves the two situations undifferentiated. That they present different problems is shown by the two questionnaires which foIIow.

      State laws relating to the apprehension and punishment of deserters are so varied that no questions are included with regard to extradition, trial, suspension of sentence, probation, reimbursement of family during imprisonment, etc. It is assumed here that the...

    • CHAPTER XXIII THE NEGLECTED CHILD
      (pp. 405-412)

      IT SEEMED best to Dr. Catherine Brannick, who prepared the questionnaire regarding a Neglected Child which follows, to classify nearly half of her material on the basis of the particular forms of neglect recognized in many of our states as statutory offenses. This was done to facilitate reference, but it has involved repeating under each form listed questions that apply to several forms. The court side is only one aspect of this important problem, but it is a side with which social workers have to make themselves familiar.

      This is not a schedule to be filled out nor a set...

    • CHAPTER XXIV THE UNMARRIED MOTHER
      (pp. 413-419)

      WE HAVE seen earlier that the affixing of a label—even of a correct label—has no practical bearing upon prognosis and treatment, and that a classification of this sort is not a social diagnosis. This truth has been illustrated in the dealings of social agencies with the mother of an illegitimate child. There are few tasks requiring more individualization, and there are few in which there has been so little.

      Mrs. Sheffield, in the questionnaire regarding an Unmarried Mother which follows, aims to bring out first, under the captions The Mother and The Father, certain facts of environment and...

    • CHAPTER XXV THE BLIND
      (pp. 420-424)

      THE social worker may happen upon cases in which blindness is the dominant cause of the present situation, or he may happen upon any of the forms of disability outlined in other questionnaires, complicated by the factor of blindness. In the latter case, sets of questions like that regarding a Neglected Child, or a Child Possibly Feeble-minded, may be even more helpful than one on blindness. There are, however, five captions under which special consideration of the causes and results of blindness may be of service. In making the questionnaire regarding a Blind Person given in this chapter, Miss Lucy...

    • CHAPTER XXVI THE HOMELESS MAN—THE INEBRIATE
      (pp. 425-433)

      THOUGH these two subjects overlap at one point, their juxtaposition here is entirely arbitrary. The inebriate is a patient of the physician, or should be; the homeless man is a client of the social agency—often in need of medical care, it is true, but presenting no one medical problem. Inebriety is an important topic for the case worker because the inebriate is often in need not only of medical but of social treatment, and for the further reason that he is often given a type of social treatment which ignores altogether the obvious need of medical co-operation.

      The fact...

    • CHAPTER XXVII THE INSANE—THE FEEBLE-MINDED
      (pp. 434-448)

      THESE two disabilities, of insanity and of feeble-mindedness, carry us still farther than that of inebriety into the territory where medical and social data are not easily separated. It cannot be too emphatically stated, however, that the questionnaires here given can in no sense enable a social worker to make a medical diagnosis; the diagnosis of mental disease and of mental defect must be regarded always as primarily medical, though social data of the right kind can suggest the need of a physician in the first place and may be serviceable to him later in making an inclusive examination of...

    • CHAPTER XXVIII SUPERVISION AND REVIEW
      (pp. 449-454)

      THE foregoing analyses of the diagnostic side of a few social disabilities are only a beginning. Should the plan followed prove helpful in actual practice, other disabilities can be analyzed in the same way.

      The questionnaire of this closing chapter turns from disabilities, which are not always the most important consideration in social work, to the other diagnostic topics likely to be of service to a case work supervisor. When inquiry into a client’s situation has reached the stage of evidence gathered but not yet compared or interpreted, and the record comes to a supervisor, or when, in the absence...

  7. Appendices

    • APPENDIX I FIRST INTERVIEWS
      (pp. 457-465)
    • APPENDIX II STATISTICS OF OUTSIDE SOURCES
      (pp. 466-471)
    • APPENDIX III SPECIMEN VARIABLE SPELLINGS
      (pp. 472-480)
  8. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 483-486)
  9. INDEX
    (pp. 489-511)