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Czerny, Michael and Jamie Swift.

Toronto, Between the Lines, c1984. 174pp, paper, ISBN 0-91994645-3 (cloth) $22.95, 0-919946-44-5 (paper) $12.95. CIP

Reviewed by Ruth Rausa

Volume 13 Number 2
1985 March

Michael Czerny, the director of the Jesuit Centre in Toronto, and Jamie Swift, an author who has written about social issues, have joined forces to produce a thoughtful and thought-provoking treatise on social analysis. One of the Jesuit Centre's goals is to ". . .analyse problems as they emerge on the local and regional, national and international levels, and to reflect critically on the grave social obstacles to human development." This statement describes perfectly the goal of Getting Started. The authors hope that, by raising questions about our society, we can work out acceptable solutions which will ultimately lead toward social justice for all.

Such a book, one might think, would be most political in nature, something approximating a left-wing, radical exposition on the evils of the capitalist society. Instead, the authors have attempted to be apolitical, although issues are analysed from the perspective of the "average" individual—the very audience at which Getting Started has been aimed. Interestingly, Czerny and Swift have limited their work to "raising social questions without preferring political answers. . ." and indeed in most cases offer no solutions to the social problems they present. Instead, the authors realize that practical solutions "need to be hammered out in an often difficult process of compromise." Thus, the objective of Getting Started is just that: getting individuals and groups started on the process of social analysis, to make a stand, to take action.

The organization of the book is well laid-out and logical. Getting Started is divided into three main parts, each part containing three or four chapters of analysis and each chapter divided into three or four segments. Yet the reader need not work through the book in linear fashion. He or she may turn directly to the chapter on the topic that interests him. At the end of each chapter, questions are posed that are designed to facilitate discussion and further research; a number of additional resources, such as recommended books and groups to contact for further information, are also included. The subject in each chapter is complemented by illustrations, which are designed to question "typical images, cultural expressions, attitudes and stereotypes."

Getting Started treats a sample of social and economic issues: the health care system, the plight of the aged in our society, the plague of unemployment, to name just a few. All subjects have been well-researched and contain a wealth of up-to-date (i.e., 1984, in most cases) Canadian statistics.

Getting Started provides a clear, concise and fair treatment of the issues presented. This guide would prove an excellent resource to both individuals wishing to take action on some pressing issue and students, in the high school or college classroom, beginning to reflect on their society. A constructive book, with a positive outlook, whose theme is action. Recommended.

Ruth Rausa, Toronto, Ont.
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