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Application of theory in human behavior in social work


Lecture Topic: Application of theory in human behavior in social work


Dr. Serge Lee, Research Professor

California State University, Sacramento

6000 J Street

Sacramento, CA 95819-6090

Email:  leesc@csus.edu


Time:  14th of June           Lecture:  Dr. Serge Lee    

Site:  Meeting room of College of Ethnology and Sociology


Goal of HBSE in Social Work (The BSW Curriculum)

Using the multidimensional approach, social work theory and life course frameworks, this course emphasizes the influence that context has in shaping individual and family dynamics across the life span. This course examines growth and development with special focus on lifespan from birth through adolescence in the context of family, community, complex organizations, and society in a world in which technological, economic, political and ecological systems are rapidly changing, thereby altering the world as an environment for human life


Theoretical Bases of Social Behavior is taught in two semesters and is designed to provide the foundation generalist social work knowledge, from an ecological perspective, concerning the application of bio-psycho-social /cultural / spiritual theories to contemporary social work practice situations.


The purpose of this course sequence is to enable students to understand the multi-level, multi-dimensional processes of development. This is a prerequisite course for advanced practice courses and/or co-requisite for field internships to assist students in developing a knowledge base to draw from in preparation for micro, mezzo, and macro social work practice


In addition, the profession of social work aims to work respectfully within a diverse (i.e., age, gender, ethnicity, mental and physical ability, sexual orientation, religion/spirituality) society. Therefore, the course stimulates student thinking about the role of privileged, oppressed statuses, and resilience and their influence on human development. This emphasis is supported by the NASW Code of Ethics, which states Social workers should obtain education about and seek to understand the nature of social diversity and oppression with respect to race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, political belief, religion, and mental or physical disability”


Core (main) Objectives

At the end of the term, students should be able to critically think about:


        Empirically based theories such as strengths and restrictions, and processes of human development

        Develop their individualized theoretical frameworks for social work practice/professional identities

        Be able to demonstrate their comprehension of the person-in-environment perspective (the dynamic transactions that occur among the biological, psychological, social, cultural, spiritual, environmental, ecological, economic and political systems)

        Be able to apply the concepts of the ecological model of human development and relate those concepts to the process of human development

        Be able to describe various theories of identity development / meanings and interpretations of experiences as they play out in a context of social-political privileges and oppressions


Be able to explain how environmental conditions (i.e. poverty, unsafe living quarters, inadequate nutrition, lack of health care, deteriorated schools, and other manifestations of oppression or social stratification, material deprivation and inequitable distribution/ access to life sustaining resources) impact human development


Be able to recognize the negative social attitudes and behaviors, such as racism, sexism, ageism, ableism, homophobia, social exclusion, and social stigma that negatively influence human development


Be able to reframe deficit-based perspectives of human development by employing the strengths and the empowerment models as a means to understand human behavior and resistance to oppressive social and political circumstances


Samples of Sociological Theories
Commonly use in Social Work : The Ecological Perspective




Samples of other perspectives on Human Behavior


Systems Perspective

        Sees human behavior as the outcome of reciprocal interactions of persons operating within linked social systems (e.g., math and psychology)

Conflict Perspective

        Typically looks for sources of conflict, and causes of human behavior in the economic and political arenas

Rational Choice Perspective

        See human behavior as based on self-interest and rational choices about effective ways to accomplish goals

Social Constructionist Perspective

        Focuses on how people learn through their interactions with each other, to classify the world and their place in it

Psychodynamic Perspective

        Concerned with how internal processes such as needs, drives, and emotions motivate human behavior

Developmental Perspective

        Focuses on how human behavior unfolds across the life course, how people change and stay the same over time




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