This post will deal with the models of human behavior in the social environment subcategory of the ASWB bachelor’s social work licensure exam.
We have already discussed the basics of this in our post on models of human growth and development. This category includes the basic perspectives of the psychodynamic, cognitive, behavioral, and humanistic theories discussed in that post. However, now we are concerned with how these theories interact on a larger social scale. We have moved from how they affect human development, to how they affect larger scale social behavior.
Some common social topics include cultural diversity, feminism, individuals with disabilities, family systems, race and ethnic groups, poverty, aging, identity development, and sexual preference. As you can see this is a very broad category that deals with many issues that face us today. It is important to remember that the focus in these models is concerned with the mezzo and macro levels.
The most important thing to know about this category is that it concerns itself with social justice and equality. It deals with the imbalances that arise across many types of cultural boundaries. This is a very large topic that we will go into more detail in the future. For today, I would like to talk more about some of the areas that are most commonly tested in the ASWB social work licensure exam. The exam normally will include some questions on people of color, women, and families. For these it is important to stay abreast of developments that may be taking place on your state or national level. These issues are large ones that are currently the focus of government and governmental agencies.
Social psychological theory states that members of stereotyped groups will tend to internalize these stereotypes. There are many harmful consequences to this. An example of this is called stereotype threat. Basically this is when a group is told that they suffer some disadvantage for a test or skill. Numerous studies have shown that this will cause them to actually perform worse at the test or skill. This is important to keep into mind when considering the topics of race or gender.
The ASWB social work exam will test your comprehension on modern social theories , which does not limit a person’s gender to their biological sex. Rather, gender is approached as a wide-set of variables that are typically associated with each gender. Most societies tend to have two (Binary) gender systems. However, this is not universal, as many examples exist of three or more separate genders. Because of this, it is believed that gender is social based, rather than biological based.
Family sociology deals with the family construct, and how the family interacts on more macro settings. The family tends to be a small unit, but many sociological approaches can be applied to it. Because of this, the family tends to be one of the first social institutions that is taught in social work. Family sociology will tend to deal with such roles as fatherhood, motherhood, and childhood.
Reader’s Challenge: I am a huge proponent of social justice. To me every social grouping has value, and should be treated with respect. I have personally experienced some of the inequalities associated with American culture. I am a female, and as a social worker I have seen firsthand how gender inequality affects our position. I have seen a statistic that men represent about 10 percent of social workers, but hold 40% of the managerial positions.
What experiences have you had with inequality? I believe that dialogues on this topic is a great way to help change our society.