Social Work Exam: Social Growth, Development, and the Socialization Process
This post will begin our series on typical and atypical social growth, development, and the socialization process, as it pertains to the ASWB bachelor’s social work licensure exam. We will first look at models for typical growth and development, then focus on atypical growth and explore a major atypical social development disorder. Finally we will finish by examining the socialization process in greater detail.
In this post we will be focusing on social growth and development theory. First let us begin by defining social growth and development as the process in which an individuals thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the presence of others, and that way that this process changes over time.
One of the main theorists in social growth theory is Lev Vygotsky and his theory on social constructivism. Vygotsky argues that culture is a dominant force in a child’s development, and that development moves from the social level to the individual level. Vygotsky is also famous for founding cultural-historical psychology.
Vygotsky believed that knowledge was passed socially, and that social interactions with parents and adults led to the formation of speech, language, and other developmental processes. This process is a key premise of Vygotsky’s work, and is called cultural mediation. Essentially, Vygotsky argues that cultural development occurs from knowledge that is passed from adults to children, or even from among other children. Simply put, when you are immersed in a culture, you are learning all the time how to be part of that culture on many different levels.
While taking the social work exam, remember that this theory is highly related to and builds upon Jean Piaget’s work on cognitive development. The difference is that the main tool of growth in social learning theory is interaction, and in cognitive theory takes place by observation.
Another important figure in social growth and development is Erik Erikson and his eight stages of psychosocial development. We have discussed his work in a separate post, so I will not be going into great detail, but this is a theory of development from infancy to adulthood that takes place in eight discrete stages, and contains important developmental milestones focused on social behavior.
That concludes our look at the figures behind social growth and development theory. In our next post we will go into further detail behind the social development milestones, and look at how these relate to the theories of growth and development that we have discussed so far. I hope that you are enjoying this blog series of posts, and I look forward to seeing you for our next post.