SOCW 6361: Individual Vs. Structural-Cultural Theories

Theories developed by psychologies significantly influence social work practice, education, and research. The psychological theories of poverty have been emphasizing the roles of group or individual to explain the impact and causes of poverty. Psychologies have also put a lot of emphasis on societal and structural factors that moved beyond individual pathology explanations and contribute to poverty (Turner & Lehning, 2007). Social workers can conceptualize a poverty presenting problem using different theories.  The first individual related theory, according to Turner and Lehning (2007) is the medicalizing perspective, which articulates that the behaviors of poor people results from psychological disturbance like mood disorders and hereditary psychosis. Mental health practitioners and systems most often identify and perceive that poor people to adapt and cope with adverse environments since they have mental health problems. Behaviors that make sense in a particular context are often flagged as impaired and dysfunctional in another. On the other hand, one structural-related theory highlighted by Turner and Lehning (2007) is the social causation hypothesis, which articulates that people’s economic situation leads to psychopathologies. Lack of money leads to stress in people’s lives as well as depression and other mental health problems. The social selection perceptive would portray the mentally challenged individuals as impoverished in society.

In a theoretical related lens, this conceptualization is different in individual and structural theories. According to a medializing perspective, people’s mental health is the leading cause of impoverished environments (Turner & Lehning, 2007). Furthermore, mental illness can hinder people from socioeconomic attainment and cause individuals to never escape poverty after drifting into the lower social class. According to research, there is a reciprocal relationship between mental health and social-economic status, even though causation has more evidence (Almquist, Landstedt & Hammarström, 2017). On the other hand, the social causation hypothesis blames a person’s mental illness in an impoverished environment. The medicalizing approach represents an individual related theory, that indicates that people’s mental heal problems is the leading basis of poverty (Rauch, 2019). The social causation hypothesis represents a structurally linked model, which shows poverty as the leading reason for people’s psychological illnesses.

The way social workers approach the issue of poverty and intervene is different in both theories. Both the medicalizing perspective and structural-related theory need an empathetic and warm approach to help in building trust and rapport. When employing an individual related theory like the medicalizing approach in treatment of clients, social workers most probably arbitrate with mental health services to help in management of medication (Rauch, 2019). In contrast, a structurally related theory like the social causation hypothesis, social workers are likely to intervene with structures assessment tools to show poverty levels and mental illness. This will help in determining an accurate intervention. Furthermore, the social causation hypothesis is critical in advancing the understanding of social equality influence on people’s lives (Almquist, Landstedt & Hammarström, 2017). Both theories are employed differently in social work practice and have substantial outcomes for individuals.

One key benefit of a medicalizing approach is that it makes it easier for someone who has been diagnosed with an illness to obtain insurance coverage for the care they require to reduce unpleasant symptoms (Rauch, 2019). The designation can also assist people in connecting with others who share their illness for assistance. The drawback of this approach is that whenever something is classified as an illness or medical condition by healthcare workers, it may have unexpected repercussions because it presumes that the actions displayed by the patient are intrinsically deviant or improper. The main advantage of the social causation hypothesis is the fact it seeks to identify causal links between people and structural issues and then uses theory formation and implementation in order to clarify these links (Turner & Lehning, 2007). However, multiple factors, either adequate or required, frequently cross and work together to produce a particular phenomenon, and as a result, theories of sole or fundamental causality are sometimes insufficient for social study.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

Almquist, Y. B., Landstedt, E., & Hammarström, A. (2017). Associations between social support and depressive symptoms: social causation or social selection—or both?. The European Journal of Public Health, 27(1), 84-89.

Rauch, S. (2019). Medicalizing the Disclosure of Mental Health: Transnational Perspectives of Ethical Workplace Policy Among Healthcare Workers. World Medical & Health Policy, 11(4), 424-439.

Turner, K., & Lehning, A. J. (2007). Psychological theories of poverty. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 16(1/2), 57–72. Doi:10.1300/J137v16n01-05

 

 

 

 

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