Basic Theories and Models of Social Work - Theory of Social Work

Basic Theories and Models of Social Work

At present there is no generally accepted norm for the construction and presentation of social work as a science, which speaks of its finding in the stage of formation and design of its scientific apparatus.

The subject of the science of social work, its specifics can be said, comparing it with the subjects of other sciences, primarily sociology, psychology, conflictology, social history.

Social work is mainly applied nature. It does not boil down to theorizing, but organically includes facts and data based on concrete practical experience. A close connection with the vital activity of various groups and strata of the population is an indispensable condition for increasing the applied importance of scientific research in the field of social work.

The subject of social work as a science is social processes and phenomena that have a direct bearing on the vital activity of the individual, a particular social group or community, and the trends of their changes under the influence of psychological and pedagogical , economic and managerial factors.

The active, creative nature of human existence is interpreted differently and taken into account in various models of theory and the practical organization of social work.

Let us dwell on various approaches to the holistic comprehension of man in the theory of social work.

In the foreign scientific literature psychosocial interpretation of social work, oriented mainly on the conceptual substantiation of individual and personal psychological and social assistance to the needy, is increasingly spreading, although its structural varieties, oriented toward organizational and collective forms of assistance, working with groups in need, organizations, carrying out various kinds of social support of the population, still do not lose their relevance. In this there is a certain meaning and expediency, first of all, because it is quite obvious that the interaction of such forms of social work as individual-personal and group assistance.

Theoretically, however, it is more appropriate to use a different basis for grouping different directions in the theory of social work. At the present time, three dominant scientific disciplines, sociology , psychology (often also psychotherapy ) and pedagogy are quite clearly defined in the theory of social work >. Accordingly, this determines the various theoretical approaches to social work, which are divided into:

1) psychologically-oriented;

2) socially-oriented;

3) complex.

What is the specificity of a holistic vision of a person within each of the indicated approaches to the substantiation of social work?

The psychology-oriented approach is based on the knowledge of the laws and psychological development and status of a person in society. At the same time, several models of the organization of social work are singled out, on the basis of which such kinds as problem-oriented, functional, crisis-interventional, ego-orifice , etc. emerged. Their features , including in a holistic awareness and comprehension of a person, are associated with the recognition of the huge role of the past experience of an individual stemming from his childhood and adolescence, the impact of which is usually not fully realized by people. This idea is expressed by the concepts subject relationships or life experience links & quot ;. It is important to emphasize that practically all the modifications of the theory of social work of this kind describe the influence of past experience on the formulation of the style of human behavior, the level of its adaptation to the environment, rooted in Freud's psychoanalytic theory, 3 but not integrating with it.

The integrity of man in this regard is seen, first, in his traditional reliance on his life experience; Secondly - in how successfully, harmoniously he overcomes the conflict of his past experience with the present, solves current problems. The object of cognition for a social worker in this case is a client with problems. Studying the impact of the past experience of a person on his current state, on the contradictions of this experience with the realities of today often allows achieving certain success.

In this context, we can say that the presented theoretical approach also determines some strategy for the actions of a person as a subject of social work. From this depends on the choice of technology to help the client, the nature of communication with him, the methods of examination of his condition and social status.

Another very common tradition in the development of psychologically-oriented approaches to social work is behaviorist or, as it is sometimes called, behavioral-cognitive approach. He became the first major offensive on psychodynamic models of theory and practice of social work. In this regard, significantly changed the perception of the integrity of the person and his role as a subject of social work.

The basic idea that defines the essence of this kind of theoretical vision of social work is the assertion that human behavior is determined in its essential features by the influence of the environment that controls it through the impact of various kinds of stimuli. It is not accidental that this kind of theoretical justification of models of assistance to the needy is called the "psychology of behavior."

The integrity of a person's vision here is largely determined by understanding his ability to adequately respond to the same stimuli while maintaining the stability of behavior in a changing situation. In this connection, in the behaviourist integration of models of social work, a general set of principles called "social learning" is very important.

The psychological content of the actions here amounts to the following: most people acquire their experience through perception and comprehension of the impressions received, copying the behavior of others. In other words, a person models the world around him and his own actions according to observed patterns of behavior. The basis of social learning of this type is the process of imitation, copying cultural standards of a way of life, culture of behavior. In this regard, the integrity of man as an object of cognition in the theory and practice of social work can be comprehended as a system of cultural images imitated by personality.

On the other hand, a person as a subject of social work can also be represented as imitating the images of the behavior of social workers who represent one or another experience of its implementation, the realization of a model of rendering assistance to those in need. In other words, a social worker can be included in social education, according to which he will model his behavior. At the same time, he, as a subject of social assistance, is obliged to take into account the psychology of behavior, the stimuli and reactions of his clients. All this in a unified way behaviourist represents the subjectivity of a social worker with all its advantages and disadvantages.

In the last three decades, in the Western theoretical tradition, as a relatively independent branch, the humanistic model of the theory of social work, which is often called existential-humanistic. This direction in the theory of social work was formed under the influence of K. Rogers, A. Maslow, who developed humanistic psychology, A. Camus,

F. P. Sartre, V. Frankl, who worked on existential problems in philosophy and psychology, F. Perls, who supported the tradition of gestalt therapy.

The basic provisions of humanistic models of social work proceed from the understanding of a person as an integral personality, in constant interaction with his environment. This integrity is ensured here by the declaration of faith in man as the highest value, the supreme being capable of perceiving and constructing the world, making decisions and shaping his life strategies, changing under the influence of circumstances. The humanistic approach to the theoretical formulation of knowledge about social work is based on the need for independent human existence to think and act independently, to have freedom, to ensure humanitarian relations, the possibility of choice, and constructive cooperation. Only on its basis self-propelled forces of personal development can be awakened, personal, individual and social subjectivity formed. In this case, a huge role is assigned to the person's ideas about himself, the "I-concept", the central link of which is the concept of "self-worth."

Comprehending a human, the humanistic models of the theory of social work see in him, above all, just that. On the same basis, the strategy of human actions is already being built as a subject of social work. At the same time, attention is usually focused on the partnership between the client and the social worker, self-help of the needy, their active role in solving their problems, is a priority.

Socially-oriented approaches theoretical comprehension of social work are reduced to knowledge of the laws of social development and the structuring of society, the interaction of its social institutions.

It is known that the emergence of socially-oriented models of the theory of social work was influenced by classical positivism (O. Comte, J. Mill, G. Spencer), who treated sociology as " ; social physics & quot ;. In this connection, classical positivism tried to oppose the methods of observation, the comparative historical sociological method of analyzing social processes, and mathematical methods, to counter speculative theorizing and the social philosophy based on it, any social theory.

Characteristic features of sociological positivism, especially the early one, were naturalism, evolutionism and phenomenalism. The model of scientific knowledge here biology, human anatomy and physiology, and partly mechanics. Positivism in sociology and the theory of social work postulated the existence of unchanging laws of functioning and development of society and man, which were considered as part or continuation of natural processes.

In this regard, the subjective role of the client of social work is guided by the consideration of the natural needs of reproduction of the individual, personal and social life, the objective laws of the evolution of man and society. Essential importance is attached to the solution of specific social assistance tasks.

A noticeable influence on the development of the theory of social work has been and is being rendered by sociological functionalism and its close structural and functional analysis and system sociological knowledge. In this regard, social work is viewed primarily as part of a broader social system, where it has its role, a number of functions whose influence ensures the integrity and viability of society. Social work itself is also represented as a system of activities of a number of institutions, a set of social actions, ideas, social relations and relations, a social institution that has not only various connections with society, but also its own relatively independent logic of development. It is also significant that the activity of a relative social worker is also represented in the form of a set of functions, interrelated roles, as a system having a characteristic internal structure. Finally, the client who needs help is also considered functionally, in the system of his functions as a psycho-biosocial being, satisfying his needs for supporting life support and activities. Such a position in interpreting a person as an object of cognition and a subject of social work is quite specific and typical for a whole trend of socially-oriented models of the theory of the development of social assistance.

Serious influence on the evolution of theories of social work in the XX century. Marxist sociology, also formed a well-known tradition of holistic cognition of a person and his role as a subject of social work. The orientation of the latter to the study of the conditions of the collective being of people, collectivist orientations of the individual, is of fundamental importance for the theory of social work experiencing the dominant influence of Marxist sociology. This, in many respects, determines the integrity of the comprehension of man as an object of cognition in Marxist-oriented models of social work. It is not by chance that the essence of personality here after Marxist sociology is seen in the concentrated reflection (expression) of the aggregate of social relations.

Theories of social work represent a person as an object of study and organization of social assistance, also taking into account, first of all, his personal social qualities, stable ties (social status) , belonging to a particular social class group. On this basis, the differentiation of social assistance to the population, the strategy and programs of the social worker's activity as a professional, subject of social work are mainly formed.

In addition to Marxist ideas, similar ideas develop social work theories based on systemic sociology.

Abroad, the most active and widely systemic ideas in the theory of social work began to be used in the 1970s and 1980s. The main argument in favor of this approach was that people's lives depend on various surrounding systems. At the same time, a person is represented and studied as part of a society, a large system, representing, in turn, also a system consisting of subsystems of blood circulation, nervous system, digestive system, and also cells consisting of atoms, including even smaller particles. In addition, for a person characterized by a system of certain views, skills and connections with the environment. The holistic vision of man and society, which focuses on understanding the independent meaning of systemic comprehension of human problems and as an object of cognition, and as a subject of social action, including social work as an activity, determines the significance of these theories.

Another option for treating a person in his integrity in the world around him is a

vitalistic approach, based on the emerging sociological concept of a person's vital forces. This promising version of the analysis gives good reasons for reliance on specifically stressed theories of social work, and also uses the genetic approach to solving human life problems as a biopsychosocial creature, the evolution whose life support is the subject of social worker's concerns.

The integrity of the comprehension of human problems in vitalistically oriented models of the theory of social work is ensured, first of all, by the fact that they take into account the nature of the interaction of vital forces and the life space of human existence, the reproduction and improvement of its activity as a psychobiosocial being. At the same time, the vital forces of a person are characterized as a unity of individual and social subjectness of the individual in all spheres, as a totality of its biophysiological, mental and social traits.

Such an understanding of a person is also dictated by the logic of his behavior, the content of activity as a social worker, the subject of the realization of help to people who need it. This activity is oriented not only directly to the support and rehabilitation of man's vital forces, but also to the "improvement" the life space of his being.

Finally, it is important to take into account the possibilities and of the culturological aspect of the theory of social work, which arose not least thanks to sociological theory of P. Sorokin, the creator of the theory of the sociocultural dynamics of modern society, ideas of "integral sociology".

Social reality and human life, the system of its social protection are considered in this connection in the spirit of social realism, which proclaims the existence in the world of a super-individual socio-cultural reality that is irreducible to material reality, endowed with a system of meanings. It is characterized by a "restless" a variety of socio-cultural manifestations representing the truths of rational intelligence, feelings, supra-rational intuition, which requires appropriate methods of cognition, their interface with the comprehension of the secrets of nature, society and man. All these methods of cognition should be used in a systematic, holistic, multifaceted study of sociocultural phenomena.

It is also important that a person is considered here as an integral part of that cultural environment, the socio-cultural tradition, which determines its development and its characteristic problems. The regional, settlement, national-cultural context of human life in this plan acquires significant significance.

Comprehensive approaches to the theory of social work are guided by a holistic vision of a person's social problems. At the same time, the role theory plays a wide development, the founder of which is Jacob Levi Moreno. In its development, an important role has played both sociology and psychology.

The concept of personal roles used in role-playing model of social work, assumes that people build their behavior in accordance with models, schemes reproduced by individual-personal consciousness. The role model includes the client's problems related to questions about how to behave and develop in the light of past experience, understanding the significance of current events, and how each person shapes his or her own ideas about his own role in life.

You can say that social role is behavior that is expected from a person by other people when performing social functions. Acting in accordance with these expectations, a person fulfills his social role. And here there may be a discrepancy in understanding by him and other people of the fact that he "is obliged or not obliged" do according to this role, which in the future can lead to conflicts. In addition to social roles, people also perform interpersonal roles. Sometimes contradictions arise between social ("loving mother", "devoted son", "strict father") and interpersonal ("indifferent mother", "bold son", "father not respecting"). And not always people themselves can get out of the contradictory situation in which they fell. In this case, they must come to the aid of specialists - social workers, taking into account the degree of development of the ordinary level of consciousness of clients, the nature of cognitive forms peculiar to this level of consciousness (stereotypes).

The most common technologies used in working with role theory are:

changing roles;

group discussion (its subject, in particular, can be a client's biography, interpersonal relations in a group, etc.);

group behavioral therapy, which aims to master new roles in the group and, with the help of the group, correct the client's behavior (in this case, methods such as fading, re-conditioning, modeling, learning social skills, interpersonal contacts);

art therapy, aimed at disclosing the client's role to the group, interpreting it, stimulating the client's activity;

the technique of programmed roles , etc.

The concept of social role allows and more clearly describe the relationship "social worker - client".

Role theory also has a pronounced tendency towards complexity, which allows many theorists and practitioners to classify it as complex-oriented, linking it with the socio-psychological variety of complex-oriented theories of social work.

Among other varieties of models of this approach, the socio-pedagogical model is singled out. It is based on the idea that education is part of the process of a person's social formation as a conscious, purposeful influence on an individual, a social group on the part of the subjects of educational activity, whose aim is the development of certain social qualities among the educated.

A variety of social factors influence the process of the social formation of a person, the formation of his personality, under the influence of which, in certain cases, the social qualities of the personality that are inadequate to a given society and which subsequently lead to various social conflicts. Therefore, the process of socialization is basically institutionalized, implemented through a system of certain social institutions designed to correct the formation of social qualities of the individual in accordance with socially significant values, to limit or activate the effects of certain factors or to neutralize them.

The social-pedagogical model of social work is formed both at the structural level and at the level of psychosocial work. The possibilities of realizing this model at the structural level can be demonstrated by examining the relationship between school and society.

From the point of view of this approach, the system of education and upbringing is a means of introducing new technological achievements that can meet the emerging needs of the individual, the group, and society as a whole. The school in modern society fulfills those basic tasks that were performed informally at other stages of the development of society, by including the individual in the family or community, etc. The school acts as the initial mechanism of differentiation of society, taking on the task of professional training.

Thus, it is the school that begins to shape the social status of a person, helping it to adapt to the life of society at different levels and stages of its development. In accordance with this, such functions of social work as preventive, prognostic, social control are realized.

Another point of view is based on the fact that the school is regarded as a social institution that is a factor in the struggle of various social groups for power. The task of the school in this case is primarily to create values ​​that would justify all the actions necessary to maintain the existing system. The school is an important element of political stability, legitimizing and justifying the existence of differences and inequalities. Thus, through this approach, a function of social work, such as social control, is realized.

The third point of view is based on the idea that in a modern society "well-socialized" in a group, a person is not required to share the views of other members of the group, and his behavior may differ materially from their behavior. All people live, as if "playing" by certain rules (decide how to change the rhythm of work, how to spend your free time, how to behave in case of conflict with the administration, etc.). But some of them "drop out" from the game, not knowing how to enter into it, not understanding what it means, what you can expect from it and what you can afford.

The role of the school is that such "marginal groups" did not arise. Accordingly, the school, on the one hand, contributes to the formation of free-acting, as it were autonomous social actors, and on the other - develops the "structure of the reasonable" within which individuals can exist without entering into conflict with society.

In this case, the functions of social work are the socio-psychological rehabilitation of the individual and the optimization of the mechanisms for realizing his capabilities and needs.

The next model of complex-oriented theories is the cognitive model, according to which one of the principles of social work organization is that social services should be accessible to all who need them. Special popularity in the practice of social work cognitive theory has reached since the early 1980s. In part, this is due to the growing interest in such a method of work, introduced from psychology, as counseling. To increase the efficiency and effectiveness of counseling for a social worker, it is important to know the features of the client's thinking, his attitudes and prejudices, which ultimately guide his social actions both towards himself and towards others.

In the cognitive model, the possibilities of regulating the client's social behavior are revealed through training him to "work out" the mechanisms of their actions, adequate to social conditions or the specific social situation in which they found themselves. One of the methods in the process of consulting a client developed on the basis of the cognitive model is an explanation based on the rational control of the social worker for the behavior of the client.

This model is most often used when working at the client's place of residence. The processes of urbanization, the appearance of satellite cities in many developed countries, the expansion of migration flows have put social workers in front of the need to learn new forms of social work.

The cognitive model of social work is complex, as it includes both sociological and psychological approaches to the organization of social work. This understanding of this model of social work practice is largely due to the fact that adaptation is understood not only as an individual-personal need, but also as having social consequences: it affects the social environment (both the immediate habitat of the individual, and indirectly on social reality in whole), changing, in turn, under its influence through personality changes. But sometimes social adaptation limits its independence, various social institutions can make a person compromise with his life goals and attitudes, strengthening the resulting intrapersonal discomfort, although outwardly the social conflict may seem solved.

In accordance with this model of practice, one of the problems with which a social worker meets is the resolution of conflicts, the nature and essence of which can be different. The way in which a person emerges from the conflict or suggests ways out of it has a public significance, since it is a question of rehabilitation of adaptive mechanisms of personality that have a certain relation to changes and other people.

Thus, in the organization of social work, the integrated use of theoretical approaches and models, including the methodological foundations of psychology, sociology, jurisprudence, economics and other sciences, especially those that are integrative-complex in nature, is effective.

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