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In Social Systems and Social Regulations, Elaine Cumming describes attitudes of patients and clients toward health and welfare organizations. The focus is on the complex relationships between regulative agents, as revealed by the movement of clients through health and welfare systems. The author observes how doctors, clergy members, police officers, welfare officers, psychiatrists, social workers, and other social agents relate to one another and to their clients and charges.
Cumming selected Syracuse, New York, typical of many middle-sized American cities of the 1960s, for her field studies. These involved several agencies and thousands of individuals. The result is a thoughtful analysis that can readily be applied to many aspects of the entire social system. Who are the clients? What are their problems? How do agents respond to them? These are some of the topics dealt with at length.
From the view point of the agents, the author discusses how they see their own roles in the overall regulative system; how areas of operation interact and overlap; how the network of agencies changed over a five year period; what major problems remained to be overcome at the time; and what changes could and should have been made. When initially published, this was a new examination of the regulative system in America. Students and scholars will still find this work invaluable in the study of social control. Professionals will find many points for contrast and comparison and an analytical framework for evaluating and solving problems faced in health and welfare operations throughout the country.