People and Process in Social Security

By Karl De Schweinitz; American Council on Education Committee on Education and Social Security | Go to book overview
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3. THE PROCESS AND THE INDIVIDUAL

When we see expert and administrative official, legislator, and judge, and the people, all integral parts of the social process, all learning how to make facts, how to view facts, how to develop criteria by which to judge facts, then only have we a vision of a genuine democracy.

-- MARY P. FOLLETT1

VIEWED FROM THE POINT at which a statute leaves the legislature, the process of social administration starts with the question: What is the law; what does it mean? Observed at the time when the individual comes to the agency to make use of the provisions of the law, the process of social administration commences with another question: What does the individual want? The personnel whose work in social security begins with the asking of this question are the public assistance workers, the claims and field assistants in old-age and survivors insurance, and the claims clerks and claims examiners in unemployment insurance.

Most people who enter the office of an organization engaged in the administration of social security are aware, in general, of its purpose and are able to indicate what it is that they want. This is more frequently the situation in social insurance than in public assistance. The individual has his social security card. He may know that he has been employed in an insured occupation. In public assistance, where the benefits become available only if the individual is in need, he may be less confident about the service which is available

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1
Mary P. Follett, Creative Experience ( New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1930), p. 29.

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