Health and welfare are usually considered secondary or peripheral concerns of modern society. The article considers how questions about the provision of social welfare are imbedded in the economic, social, moral, and political fabric of contemporary America and New England. Underlying trends of economic, social, and attitudinal change are outlined, and implications for the future are considered. The article also considers the role of universities in equipping the next generation of citizens to cope more effectively with the complex issues that are forcing a restructuring of urban services.



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