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Abstracts from Volume 29, Number 2
(June, 2002)

Disempowering Minorities: A Critique of Wilkinson's 'Task for Social Scientists and Practitioners'
Mitch Berbrier
In this article, I examine Wilkinson's (2000) injunction that practitioners "omit entirely the 'minority' concept" (pp. 124-25). I maintain that Wilkinson's argument disempowers groups-such as gays and the disabled- who have used a "minority" identity effectively, and speciously indicates that African-Americans would benefit from such retrenchment, thereby implying that social justice is a zero-sum game. Rather, "minority" coalitions are effectively pursuing justice for all. Moreover, Wilkinson's deconstruction of "minority" conflates conceptual breadth with conceptual vagueness, and conveniently ignores (or denies) the socially constructed character of "race" and "ethnicity." I suggest that practitioners learn more about the historical development of all of these concepts and honor clients who self-identify as "minority" group members, lest they become alienated from them.

The Clinical Irrelevance and Scientific Invalidity of the "Minority" Notion: Deleting it from the Social Science Vocabulary
Doris Wilkinson* (conclusion by John Sibley Butler)
A systematic socio-linguistic and historical analysis of the minority label reveals its multiple irregularities and imperfections. These encompass a misleading array of vastly dissimilar nationality or group designations and the erroneous comparison of behaviors and life styles with racial status. As it is currently applied in U.S. political culture and in a variety of disciplines including sociology and social work, the concept has virtually no substantive meaning nor reality-linked usefulness. A thorough appraisal of the consequences of the perpetual reliance on the notion demonstrates that it eradicates ethnic cultural diversity and ignores historical antecedents and the "lived" experiences of oppressed racial populations.

In fact, the politically framed designation has no psychological nor social significance for targeted racial/ethnic groups. Rather, it comprises "politically correct" language and functions solely for those who seek to equate behavior and conditions with race or ethnic status. Yet, objective examinations clearly show that the word is lacking in definitive dimensions and fails to reference any of the standard rules for logical concept formation and category construction. A thorough knowledge of social science methodology and U.S. history provides insights into the theoretical and research limitations of the minority tool. Thus, in clinical and social science vocabularies, there is an urgent need to disconnect behavior from race for the two are not equal on any criteria. It is simply axiomatic that behavioral frames of reference are completely distinct fromrace paradigms. The chronic insistence on placing racial groups under the minority label constitues an unusual preoccupation with purposefully defining "the other" without their consent.

Perceived Effects of Voluntarism on Marital Life in Late Adulthood
Liat Kulik BarIlan
The article presents a study dealing with the perceived effects of voluntarism on marital life in late adulthood among a sample of 595 Israelis (336 men and 259 women). These perceptions were examined from three perspectives: benefits, spousal accommodation, and harmful effects. Comparisons focused on different types of families, based on employment status (pre-retired versus retired) and actual volunteer activity (volunteer versus non-volunteer). The Findings revealed that among all types of families, the prevailing tendency was to emphasize the beneficial effects of voluntarism on marital life, whereas perceived harmful effects were least prevalent. Synchronous families (both partners pre-retired) and asynchronous families (pre-retired participant / retired spouse) emphasized the need for spousal accommodation to marital life more than the other two types of families. In addition, men were found to emphasize the need for spousal accommodation more than do women. In asynchronous families (one partner pre-retired and the other retired), women showed a greater tendency than men to mention the harmful effects of voluntarism for the marital relationship. Congruent families (where both partners volunteer) showed a greater tendency to perceive voluntarism as having a beneficial effect on marital life than did other types of families.

Will Churches Respond to the Call? Religion, Civic Responsibility, and Social Service
Emily A. Leventhal Daniel P. Mears
Despite national calls for churches to become more involved in social service, many churches may not be willing or able to respond. Drawing on sociological theory, previous research, and interviews with pastors and parish social ministers from Catholic congregations in a large, urban city in Texas, we examine key factors linked to church-based social service efforts. Particular attention is given to church leadership, race/ethnicity, organizational characteristics, social and political networks, and the intersection of these factors in affecting service provision and advocacy. We then discuss the likely impacts of policies calling for religious organizations to increase their social service activities.

Child Support Payment and Child Visitation: Perspectives from Nonresident Fathers and Resident Mothers
Stacey R. Bloomer Theresa Ann Sipe Danielle E. Ruedt
The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the child support and visitation perspectives of nonresidential fathers and custodial mothers. The focus of the study was to present definitions of child support from both noncustodial fathers and custodial mothers, the barriers they experience that prevent child support and visitation, and suggestions the parents have for improvements in the child support system. The data suggest that although nonresidential fathers and custodial mothers have similar de.nitions of what characteristics define child support, they have vastly different views of what barriers prevent child support and visitation. Interparental hostility appeared to shape their perspectives about child support and visitation. Recommendations targeting the negative perceptions parents have of one another are presented.

School Social Work in Hartford, Connecticut: Correcting the Historical Record
James G. McCullagh
This paper corrects the historical record on why and how school social work began in Hartford and who was instrumental in establishing the new service. The findings, based on a study of primary sources, revealed that a school principal, and not a psychologist as previously claimed, initiated the process that led the Hartford Charity Organization Society to appoint its Visitor, Winifred Singleton Bivin, a social caseworker, to also become the .rst social worker in the schools in January 1907. The social work profession, which owes its origin to the Charity Organization Movement, is also obligated to the Hartford Charity Organization Society for its cooperative work with the schools, which led to the inception and subsequent development of school social work by the schools and, in 1909, the appointment of Miss Sara Holbrook who subsequently became a national leader in the development of the .edgling profession.

Discrimination and Human Capital: A Challenge to Economic Theory & Social Justice
Richard K. Caputo
This article reports findings of a study using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79) to test the rational choice theory that discrimination discourages investments in human capital. Nearly 60% of the study sample (N=5585) reported job-hiring discrimination (race, nationality, sex, or age) between 1979 and 1982 and they were found to invest more in job training programs and additional schooling between 1983 and 1998 than those reporting no such discrimination. White males were found to have the greatest advantage over black males and females in regard to job training and over black females in regard to additional schooling. Findings suggest that appeals to affirmative action policies and programs based on race and sex remain warranted.

The Disease Model of Alcoholism:
A Kuhnian Paradigm Brian E. Bride
Despite the fact that the disease model of alcoholism has lost its status as paradigm in international circles, the alcoholism research and treatment community in the United States maintains steadfast allegiance to the tenets of the disease model. The disease model and the related treatment goal of abstinence continue to overwhelmingly dominate the treatment of alcoholism in the U.S. Critics have suggested that .nancial and political motives have served to maintain the dominance of the disease model, despite .ndings that violate its basic tenets. This paper presents an alternative explanation of the reluctance of the alcoholism treatment community to relinquish the disease model by utilizing Kuhn's (1996) model of scientific progress in an historical analysis of the disease model. To support this position, evidence of the emergence of the disease model as a paradigm, alcoholism research as normal science, and the appearance of anomaly followed by crisis in the alcoholism research and treatment community are presented.

When Social Program Responsibilities Trickle Down: Impacts of Devolution on Local Human Services Provision
Steven G. Anderson
The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) shifted responsibility for public assistance from the federal government to the states. This study examined early impacts of this devolution and related program reductions on local service authorities in Illinois. Based on surveys from 101 large townships responsible for administering General Assistance, medical assistance, and emergency needs programs, we found that 60 percent of these localities experienced increased service demands. These demands not only placed pressure on limited local programming funds, but also transformed local service populations in subtle and unintended ways. Reports of bureaucratic mistreatment and confusion also were common as states implemented PRWORA changes. Local responses to increased service demands were variable, with many localities increasing expenditures but expressing reservations about longer term funding given local tax limits. Follow-up surveys with 40 township of.cials two years later found that a declining economy and impending Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) .ve-year time limits were intensifying township program concerns. The implications of these .ndings for the development and monitoring of state and local public assistance systems are discussed.

BOOK REVIEWS
Social Policy and Policymaking by the Branches of Government and the Public-at-Large. Theodore J. Stein.
Review by Diana M. DiNitto.

Welfare and Employment in a United Europe. Giuseppe Bertola, Tito Boeri and Giuseppe Nicoleti (Eds.).
Review by Martin Evans.

Building Community Capacity. Robert J. Chaskin, Prudence Brown, Sudhir Venkatesh and Avis Vidal.
Review by Michelle Livermore.

The Handbook of Social Work Research Methods. Bruce A. Thyer (Ed.).
Review by John G. Orme.

The Color of Opportunity: Pathways to Family Welfare and Work. Haya Stier and Marta Tienda.
Review by Eric Swank.

BOOK NOTES
Social Inclusion: Possibilities and Tensions. PeterAskonas and Angus Stewart (Eds.).

Advocacy in the Human Services. Mark Ezell.

Challenges to Equality: Poverty and Race in America. Chester Hartman (Ed.).

Working Families: The Transformation of the American Home. Rosanna Herta and Nancy L. Marshall (Eds.).

An Offer you Can't Refuse: Workforce in International Perspective. IvarLodemal and HeatherTrickey (Eds.).

 

 

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