Social Science Theory And The Ecological Perspective Essay

Social Science Theory And The Ecological Perspective Essay

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Social science theory provides the social work practitioner methods with which to understand subjects, be it an individual, family, organization, or greater society. Two related theoretical viewpoints that have received significant attention from the research community and practitioners alike are systems theory and the ecological perspective. Both give techniques to analyze a subject in the context of its environment. In this paper, the author contends that concepts from each theory are useful in considering a case vignette involving Emma, a six year old victim of sexual abuse from a deteriorating family unit. Following a discussion of important developmental factors for consideration, systems theory and ecological perspective concepts are applied to Emma’s situation, and a brief analysis is made of strengths and weaknesses of the theories as they apply to the vignette.
Major Developmental Factors
When reviewing Emma’s case, multiple factors must be considered. Biologically, it’s known that Emma is 6 years old, was delivered full-term, and has reached all of her initial developmental milestones. In order to properly assess her, however, additional questions need to be asked. Inquiries into Emma’s eating and sleeping patterns should be made. Questions regarding any accidents or bed wetting should be pursued to assess the degree to which Emma is regressing. Emma should also be evaluated on her physical appearance. It is important to ascertain if the stress of the divorce and major transition at home has impacted Emma’s care in terms of meeting her personal and physical needs. Is she in her weight class? Are there signs of neglect regarding her personal appearance and hygiene? In addition, neurobiological factors need t...


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...tioner suggestions on areas of primary focus to rebuild Emma’s sense of relatedness.
Like all theories, the ecological perspective has its strengths and weaknesses. A major strength of the ecological perspective is it not only provides a practical viewpoint for social intervention, but that it has the potential for providing social workers with an expansive outlook for viewing the social world. In regards to Emma, the ecological theory allows the social worker to look beyond the individual, to the micro, meso, exo, and macro systems that influence and impact her. A major weakness of the ecological perspective is that it lacks a singular, definitive theory to follow. Instead, there are a variety of theories and positions, each lacking well-defined procedures concerning techniques, strategies, or rationales to implement when conducting an assessment or intervention.

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