HUMAN BEHAVIOR AND SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT :
INDIVIDUAL FUNCTIONING/GROUP FUNCTIONING
ATLANTIC INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY
WINTER - 2012
The general concept of Social Work is defined by human behavior and the environment. These two components are the tools that give meaning to the profession and narrate its functions in the broadest terms. Behavior is a characteristic of living things which is often identified with life itself. Modern day Social Work practice dates back to several social movements of the 19th century and beyond and to two very prominent perspectives on the origin of human problems: those aspects that viewed the 'person' as the central point for change and those that saw the problems in the environment as contributors to human problems. Human behavior is complex and the Social Work profession is broad, which is evident by supporting theories as presented by experts on Human Behavior. These theories support human growth and development as well as the overall functioning of the individual in the midst of social service delivery. Almost all these theories come out of a socio-historical context and are value-laden.
After birth a child quickly realizes that resources for his survival come from the parents or guardians and he discovers through contact with these people the strategies for safeguard of the resources. The differences between children in one family could be as great as the differences between children chosen at random from other families. Normally in a family setting, siblings compete for available resources provided by the parents/guardians. As such strategies are adopted by the children for survival and such strategies could be the origin of motives. Eldest children normally assume the dominant role in a family setting through acting as surrogate parents towards younger siblings. Middle children normally have broader interests, have lower self-esteem and are sometimes more independent. However these also face competition in a family setting from older siblings, who are stronger and more articulate. The youngest siblings are more or less not as ambitious as both the middle and older siblings. In some families, lastborns often enjoy considerable parental attention and great support from older siblings although such support is sometimes fraught with ambivalence. Of course we cannot discuss the concept of human behavior in its entirety without mentioning evolution. This may sound absurd to most people, especially those who may not want to acknowledge that not only our bodies, but also our minds and behavior reflect an evolutionary heritage.
Charles Darwin was one of the world's first psychologists whose influence was felt by most of the pioneering psychologists of the 20th century. In his writings, he mentioned that mental abilities and emotions that we think of as distinctly human, such as love, loyalty, language, intelligence and even aesthetics are found in other species. He also noted that human behavior has its evolutionary roots in the behavior of other species, comparing the similarity in our facial expressions and postures to that of other non-human primates, especially the great apes. Another psychologist, Murray Bowen, presented a theory in the late 1940's and early 1950's referred to as the Bowen family systems theory. In this theory, Bowen alluded to Darwin's perception on human behavior as earlier stated in his books. According to Bowen, human beings are a product of evolution and human behavior is controlled by the same processes that control the behavior of all other living things. His theories also viewed man as a part of life rather than as a separate unit. Next in line of the determinants of human behavior is the society in which we live as individuals. The society, without doubt, has a great deal of influence in forming our characters and helping us become who we really are in the world. The influence of the society is...
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