College Essay Examples

Human Behavior in Social Work Essay Example

The basic ideology behind the assessment of a case in human behavior is in understanding their perceptions, ideologies and responses to environmental changes. One such ideology is the strengths perspective, which considers individuals in self-perception contexts. This means that their personal interest is limited within a social and cultural context that defines their roles. For the female candidates in this case, their position and role creates their reactionary orientation. It also results to the formation of psychosocial situations for these persons to subscribe to- and this forms the basis of this discussion. The theoretical and practical basis for discussing each person is in their character- a persona defined by environment, behavior and situations.

Firstly, Celia Sanchez is a wife and mother of six, whose main work is within her family as a caretaker of the family and home. Her interactions with her environment are limited to her home duties, which has acted as a barrier in opening up to activities such as developing her proficiency in spoken English. Her participation in her church seemingly occurs as a function of the sociocultural environment of her family which is entirely religious. On the other hand, Emilia Sanchez, as the eldest daughter takes the position of the secondary caretaker after her mother, and in this way assumes similar duties. Within the family context, she acts as an assistant for her mother, up to the point where her involvement with drug abuse limits her position. This extended drug use, stems to the current date- with additional social problems such as her abortion in light of the family’s religiousness. After her pregnancy, she is rejected by her family due to the mortal sin that she engaged in- all furthered by substance abuse and disregard for their cultural importance for religious values. For Emilia, the collapse of the support that she would have required from her family means that her environmental disposition is defined by the extents of need she has.

Person in Environment

Celia is able to exist as a mother and a wife while attempting to expand her role in the social setting she exists in. Using a micro lens, one is possible to define her abilities towards her responsibilities as limited. The lens observes that her presence within her environment is conserved and thus limited. In addition, the lens can be used to consider her interactional relationship with the environment- in her efforts in establishing family relationships. In this way, her concerns towards being inadequate in her service to her family in providing for them are justified by her position (not being formally employed and relying on her husband) (Dale & Smith, 2013). Mezzo and macro lenses can be used to classify her concerns with the tense relationships between her husband and the nephew as an inability to use her position as a wife to intervene. From this perspective, she is limited in her interest in being a provider and caretaker. Her position in her environment is lessened from such lens assessment.

Emilia is presented as a rejected person, whose perspective towards her environment is limited to the interactions her family allow her after she gets pregnant and thereafter as she struggles with drug abuse. Micro assessment of Emilia in environment shows an interactive person only limited extensively to her drug use- and from which others issues emerge. Using the ecological theory to understand these issues define her personality and limit ways in which she can contribute to her role within the family and the society by extension (Dale & Smith, 2013). As such, the macro lens would consider the rejection from her family as a collapse of the support system that she requires in dealing with her drug addiction and seeking for work in light of her challenges within the social and economic setting she exists in. 

Biopsychosocial Lens

            This lens offers a perspective from which the environment for each of these individuals can be considered and analyze using theories relevant to their physical orientation and biological setup. As such, for Celia, her environment is relevant to her psychological perception towards the condition that her family finds itself in- and her psych-emotional state in interacting with the environment. The exhibited behavior following events such as the passing of her mother, her intent to use food stamps, and the relationship with the husband all result in her behavioral stance. As a mother, she strains her relations with these persons and in this way, she is left to attempt to rebuild her interactions with them. However, from a psychological perspective, this individual can be perceived as being worried and weighed upon by the emotional state that her role as a family caretaker for the variety of characters impact on her behavior. Her biological and psychological position affect the process of establishing relationships which be also strained due to her underdeveloped proficiency with English. Additionally, the social component limits her ability to communicate outside the family environment- such as when she needs to attend parent-teacher conferences. In this regard, it is possible to understand her behavior due to the intentions she has in maintaining her position and role within the family setting given that she has limited abilities and options.

On the other hand, Emilia’s biophysical orientation involves her experience with drug addiction and pregnancy followed by an abortion. From this interest, the behavior she exhibits is as a result of the culmination of other aspects of the social component of environment on her decision making abilities. Additionally, the psychosocial development theory presents that the significance of problems this individual faces may be oriented towards her emotional state, with the pressures or dealing with her psychological and biological health imparting limitations on her health (Slavich & Cole, 2013). The effect of biological aspects on behavior- addictions, pregnancies and being a young mother is directly relatable to the health impact. This explains how all this initiates and maintains the vicious cycle that is her drug abuse which is a reactionary behavior. A problem-oriented consideration of her state through this state is directly relatable to the theoretical stance that the result of these issues are manifested in the ways in which the individual uses herself to fit in her environment.

Socio-cultural Lens

The Sanchez family presents a specific sociocultural environment for these two female members, and defines their role and general behavior. Therefore, these people behave as agents shaped by the social system they find themselves in without the inclusion of social change as a factor. Celia, is forced to behave in a defined position. Her behavior is as a mother and a caretaker whose cultural role extends beyond preserving the interests of her family, but also ensuring their well-being through proper education (attending parent-teacher meetings), provision of food and the religious interests. In as much as her role is limited to that of a mother on various levels, she is able to maneuver and establish and define her behavior in this context. Symbolic interactionism, as an applicable ideology in this setting means that although there are failures, an analytical viewpoint can be understood that the family is limited to social interaction due to the strife that exists (Slavich & Cole, 2013). Thus, she behaves emotionally as a response to the interaction between her and her family due to the oppression and limited abilities she possesses as an individual and a parent (Lantolf & Thorne, 2006). With aspects such as the impact of the juvenile justice system on her children and the pregnancy of her eldest daughter, this theoretical perspective cannot relate. Therefore, her behavior can be explained from the initial position that the individual is limited by the sociocultural environment- and that she adapts to this environment to achieve her roles towards the family.

The sociocultural environment has had a directed impact on the behavior that Emilia illustrates. She is faced with issues such as premarital pregnancy and her drug addiction. She is not only consistently badgered with having to deal with her social problems along, the support from her basic social structure is withdrawn, resulting in the escalation of her rebellious behavior. Social equality is not reflected in the treatment that this character receives in comparison to her male counterparts, especially with their juvenile delinquency and limited obedience to the interests of the family. She therefore seems to rebel against family and social situations. For example, withdrawal of support can be seen to affect the family member. Its impact on her is defined only by specific social expectations. This means that her behavior is a response to the values and beliefs that the family holds against her pregnancy and abortion result in their abandonment – and refusing to forgive or accept her actions. Her family act as agents to directly shape the social system for limiting her due to her position as a pregnant female- and in this way, that punish her unfairly due to the social definitions placed by the cultural and religious perceptions towards her life decisions and general behavior.

Social Change Lens

Social Change Lens is defined in this context as the transformative state of the abilities of the individuals to navigate social injustices placed against them. The rejection of a daughter following her abortion can be used as a defining datum for the change that may occur in the context of this family, and influence their decisions towards treating members of the family. In the example of Celia’s experience with her husband, it is possible to identify that is unjust for the collective implication of limited decision making of one family member. As a mother and the provider for the needs of the family members, it should be her decision to get food stamps when the need emerges- but the decisions of her husband are final. From a social perspective, theoretically, the interactions between persons in a basis social unit such as this, the system of oppression is integrated into the sociocultural norms (Adler, 2013). Since every member of this family is well versed with such norms, it is difficult to identify oppression for them. For the individuals, however, their limited freedom in decision making and general existence within the social context is made difficult by the limited social change. 

Oppression systems and forms of social injustice in Emilia’s context is observable from both the person’s perspective and the directional consideration of the activities pressing her freedoms. Not only is she denied a support system, she is shamed and rejected by a social environment and a family that prescribes to such norm. From the entire social change as a structure, this character is unable to be limited to the religious or social expectations (Greene & Schriver, 2016). Her failures in the eyes of her family include the abortion and pregnancies she has had- and they preclude her from the limitation of social change theories outside of oppression. Therefore, this individual is not directly obligated to her family or the sociocultural expectations held to her- and this makes the rejection that her family placed on her more significant in her position throughout the social change she undergoes.


            In the discussion of ideal surrounding the behavior of these two female family members, parallels can be drawn from their orientation. The position of females within this social system, in light of the theoretical considerations made allow for the understanding of their reactions to the environmental changes and issues that limit their position. The theory from the biopsychosocial lens allowed for the creation of an understanding of the cognitive abilities of the individuals in discussion- from which their reaction to specific issues are observed. In addition, the applicability of this theory is relevant to the formation of advanced psychological orientation of the participants in such a family situation. With the challenges facing each of these persons, the entirety of the psycho-emotional alignment directly contributes to their ability to make decisions on a reactionary basis (Rogers, 2016). In similar terms, the discussion of the interactionism/ constructionism theory from the sociocultural lens allowed for the creation of an understanding of the limitation of interaction between a social environment and a person’s outlook towards their environment.

However, in discussion of Emilia’s case, the issues that she faces within this environment extend beyond the theoretical scope for the discussion- especially since the individual’s disposition is not limited to interacting with her family alone. After the exploration of her environment within her family, there are more relevant issues that this individual would react to due to the dynamic nature of her life experiences. Apart from existing within their family, these two individuals are able to operate within and outside of the issues of oppression and conflict. As dynamic characters, they are not fully bound to subscription to specific theoretical ideologies- and on a practical level, their existence may extend outside the discussed issues towards their biopsychosocial, sociocultural and social change perspectives. All in all, the predisposition of the family as a whole involves the interactions between the members and their environment- which commonly prescribes the relationships that they form with each other. For persons such as Emilia and Celia, their role is not entirely limited to such social guidelines- and as they attempt to break out of their environment, they encounter the discussed problems.


Dale, O., & Smith, R. (2013). Human behavior and the social environment: Social systems theory (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Greene, R. R., & Schriver, J. M. (2016). Handbook of human behavior and the social environment: A practice-based approach. Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Publishers.

Rogers, A. T. (2016). Human behavior in the social environment: Perspectives on development and the life course (4th ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Slavich, G. M., & Cole, S. W. (2013). The Emerging Field of Human Social Genomics. Clinical Psychological Science, 1(3), 331-348.

Adler, E. (2013). Constructivism in international relations: Sources, contributions, and debates. Handbook of International Relations, 112-144.

Lantolf, J. P., & Thorne, S. L. (2006). Sociocultural theory and the genesis of second language development. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

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