By Peggy Foster

ISBN-10: 0333321200

ISBN-13: 9780333321201

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4H Nevertheless, these critics have performed a useful service in pointing out the vague and sometimes emotional way in which the concept of need has been used by many supporters of the welfare state. Meanwhile, critics on the left have emphasised that welfare needs cannot be usefully studied in isolation from the capitalist system wh ich creates them, and that the social services are not solely designed to meet individuals' needs. The left has also collected a great deal of empirical evidence which highlights the failure of the social services to meet the needs of the most deprived groups in society.

In recent years, however, the meaning of need has begun to be questioned and analysed. Evidence that need is a relative concept and that the definition of relative need rests partlyon value judgements has begun to undermine traditional confidence in the universality and objectivity of human needs. Supporters of the view that welfare 38 Access 10 Welfare services are primarily based on the meeting of individual need have had their optimism den ted from all sides. Critics of the right have suggested that need is a meaningless criterion on which to base the distribution of welfare goods and services.

12 Whilst a great deal of research has been carried out into unexpressed need for medical treatment, little evidence has been produced on the extent of unexpressed need for social work assistance. One study of a social services department in a Scottish city suggested that the general public may be very confused about the role of such departments. It found that the majority of clients, who had been referred by other agencies to the social services department, had not previously known that social work was based there.

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