I need to venture into a thorny subject for a moment.
One of the short stories I’m working on involves a hero who finds himself in trouble for doing the right thing. It’s in a high-fantasy setting. Most medieval-style stories feature beggars and extreme poverty; so I’ve been researching how social safety-nets, social work, and intervention function in order to integrate them into the setting.
Some key bits of world-building I’ll have to address include:
- What are the social ills the organization seeks to address?
- What is the motivation for creating the organization? (Religion was a big one in those days.)
- How are members of the organization selected and trained?
- Where does the funding come from?
Issues That Social Safety-Nets Address:
- Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – describes different human needs and which ones are the most important, from food and shelter all the way up to personal growth.
- Anthony Hassan discusses what it’s like to be a social worker for the military. “What makes it easier for them to practice is that they have instant credibility because they wear the uniform and because they live the lifestyle.”
- Charity in the Middle Ages: Discusses how ideology of charity became institutionalized, some known charitable organizations (Hospitallers of Saint John, Teutonic Order, Trinitarians, etc) in the dark ages, and who benefited from these charities (the poor, sick, orphans, widows, prostitutes, etc.) The most fascinating tidbit was that these organizations were never centralized because the church couldn’t figure out how to fit them into the bureaucratic clergy. Priorities, guys…
- Government Welfare Programs in Ancient Rome: Including corn reserves, food stamps, and subsidized education.
- Excision, by Scott H. Andrews: A fascinating fantasy tale where healers are the heroes, and disease the enemy.
- Brent Weeks’ Night Angel Trilogy touches on child abuse. In an interview, Weeks mentioned that his wife had been working with abused children when he began writing the series.
Any resources I missed? Have you read other fantasy stories with social safety-nets? Share in the comments.