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Application of Sociological Perspectives in the Practice of Social Service Professionals

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It is a known fact that sociology is one of the most essential aspects which may have significant influences on the service providers as well as the service users. In order to extend appropriate care to the clients, it is necessary for any social service provider to be able to understand the perspectives of the clients. With the consideration to the numbers of theories introduced over the years, it becomes easier for any practitioner to have clear comprehension concerning the different lenses that may be applied to evaluate any particular case in context. Thus, most suitable care plan can be drafted by understanding the criticality of any situation through varied lenses of sociological perspectives. In this specific essay, a detailed discussion of two such perspectives in regards with sociology has been given. The perspectives have been linked with a given case scenario for clear understanding of how the same is needed to be applied in practical context.


The specific essay is focused on case study of Ms K, who is of 35 years age and is resident of social housing and receives benefits from community social services. She is pregnant with her new partner and wishes to keep the child. However, there has been previous case of neglect while she had a child earlier. The child was subsequently placed for adoption. Furthermore, she has been also diagnosed with serious mental health condition like schizophrenia. In order to ensure that appropriate care decisions are taken by social care professionals, it may be stated that application of relevant sociological perspectives may be assistive. Therefore, two perspectives of sociology, one macro level and one micro level theory would be applied in the specific case scenario in order to understand varied aspects influencing the condition.

Structural-Functionalism Perspective:

One of the widely known sociological perspectives is that of structural functionalism. The approach to the mentioned perspective is based on the view that the nature of any individual is passive and society is external. Socialisation has been identified strictly as a one way process. It can be seen that the society has been reflected in a positive manner in this mentioned perspective. It is recognised to be stable and all the parts are functional together. Furthermore, it is also believed that there is a contribution of every single social aspect in survival of the society. If there is not substantial contribution for the survival, the aspects are generally not passed to the next generation.

Putting in simple words it may be stated that every society have specific needs within which multiple activities are required to be carried out in order to ensure consistency in survival and there is a scope of further development. For instance, there should be appropriate order that is needed to be initiated by a specific administration of justice. Additionally, there should be a political system prevalent in the society in order to provide necessary guidance to the participants. Continuous production and availability of goods and services are necessary to address numerous needs of the society as well. In order to maintain a social life, most of the individuals are expected to follow a structural model. In accordance with the mentioned perspective, the society is generally studied on a macro-social level. The society is studied as an entirety and on a large scale. Thus, it is often believed that the steps and actions undertaken by any individual is due to the social moulding which compels them to act a certain way, rather than forcing them to perform the expected roles.

In regards with the mentioned explanation, it may be stated that Ms K is one of the participants of the society. Her role in the society is depended on the social models which are being followed. However, it may be stated that the structural perspectives are not appropriately followed in her case. She has been obtaining assistance from community social worker and residing in council flats. It may be assumed that the social moulding on her part is responsible for her current situation. It may be inferred that due to the interactions with other social participants, or the lack of it, her current situation has been synthesised. She has not been appropriately suiting the social norms. It is needed to be understood that there is a specific interconnection between the structures which are prevalent within the society. Therefore, it may be assumed that the current condition of Ms K is heavily depended on the economic, legal and even educational structure. It may be assumed that Ms K is comparatively on the lower side of all these structures which have limited her access to high end care services that would have effective. Due to her mental state and diagnosis of her schizophrenia, it was seen that the prevalent social structure of an apt legal system was applied. She had been detained previously as per the section 2 of Mental Health Act, which can be advocating towards the fact that for maintenance of social order and equilibrium, application of these structures are generally done.

It is also largely stated under this perspective that in order to maintain stability and system within any society, it is essential that there is a substantial cooperation from the part of the members of the society as well. The social changes are recognised as predictable by the functionalists. The fundamental reason for maintenance of social order is recognised to be consensus which is learned through socialisation. The base for any social order is heavily dependent on the shared norms and values between the members of the society. As per observation of Durkheim, any society tends to develop a ‘collective conscience’. This conscience is responsible for enhancing the bond between the members in a specific society. The individuals tend to have shared thinking. In addition to this, the ascribed status is one of the major drivers of the roles that the individuals may have to undertake within the society.

In regards with the current case scenario, it may be stated that there are particular issues that can be seen. As a parent to her previous child, there were certain specific roles and responsibilities needed to be undertaken. It may be stated that on the basis of the collective conscience of the members of the society, the specific duties needed to be conducted for overall well-being of a child are generally set. The intervention of the society is expected to be normal if the standard set by the society as a whole is not met. This can be regarded as one of the major reasons that her first born was subsequently put for adoption, since she was unable to fulfill the expected roles and address her child’s needs in an effective manner. The moral regulations are set by the members of the society. Hence, disruption of the same is majorly responsible for the social disapproval. Therefore, her neglect towards her first child was majorly disapproved and intervention from the specific institutions within the functional structure was witnessed. In addition to this, it may also be stated that her condition of paranoid schizophrenia is also a major lookout for the social institutions. Since it may be assumed that her financial condition is not strong as she is unemployed and is dependent on the receipts, it may be difficult for her to access private services.

Two types of functions have been identified by the sociologists which are manifests and latent. Manifests are regarded as the consequences which are commonly recognised and are intended. On the other hand, the latent are unintended functions which are often hidden. The same situation may be applied in her case as well. As per manifestation, it may be stated that the council flat availability and receipt of benefits are manifests functions. As per the societal structures, these services are accessible to her. On the other hand, within her locality she has found a new partner and currently is pregnant with his child. This may be regarded as latent since these interactions were unintended and not commonly recognised.

In regards with the structural-functionalism perspective it may be stated that the social interaction of Ms K should be enhanced in order to mould her behaviour accordingly. The consequences and necessary steps needed to be followed for bringing up the child in most effective manner should be taught to her. In addition to this, she should be encouraged to overcome her mental illness, so that appropriate care is provided to her child. Additional support is needed to be available in case she needs assistance to cope with her condition or to effectively address the needs and requirements of her child properly.

Symbolic Interaction Perspective:

In contrary to the broad approach of social functionalism, symbolic interaction is one perspective which is largely focused on understanding the shard relationship between the individuals and the society. The basic notion in regards with the said perspective is that the actions and interactions of any individual is justified or comprehended with the establishment of meaningful communications between the participants of society. In this specific perspective, the humans rare recognised as major actors. Thus, more attention is given towards interaction of individuals in smaller groups rather than the society as a whole. With the help of interactions within a limited group, understanding of society at large is accomplished by individuals. Thus, the individuals are studied and their reactions and behaviour towards different aspects of the surroundings are observed to comprehend the characteristics.

Thus, it may be stated that in order to understand the situation of Ms K in most effective manner and ensure that a suitable care plan is being extended to her, it is important to pay appropriate attention towards her shared relationship with individuals associated. In addition to this, it may also be noted that how she is accessing available materials and reacting to certain symbols as well. There are numbers of labels associated with her current condition. The psychological dynamics are needed to be understood while she is reacting with her care providers, her partner or in a specific surrounding. In addition to this, it is also needed to be analysed in details that why she has been unemployed for a while and what is restricting her. This would provide the care providers a better understanding of her psychological position in an effective manner. The symbolic interaction with other can provide a clear reflection of her condition in an effective manner.

As per the symbolic interaction theory, it has been suggested that any individuals tend to interact with any aspect or thing depending on the meaning that the aspect may hold for that individual. The meaning for anything tends to be developed based on the ongoing interactions and individual interpretations. By fitting together the lines of actions by individuals, the social actions are generally channelized in most influential manner.

Thus, it may be stated that whether the current relationship is secure for her or not, whether she is capable of taking responsibility of her soon-to-born child or not and many such aspects can be observed and analysed in order to understand the deeper perspectives of her lives. The observation of one-on-one interaction would also be effective in judging whether her partner will be willing to share responsibility of her child or not. Through the help of counselling, the mental impact she had to go through during her first breakup when she was pregnant with her first child can be effectively determined as well. Thus, the interlinking of the symbolic interactions would be easier if her previous experiences are also evaluated with appropriate attention. Thus, depending on the given situations, it would be comparatively easier to determine how she might in a certain situation. For instance, whether she will be able to take full responsibility of her child even though she has been diagnosed with severe mental health conditions can be effectively emphasised with the help of evaluation of her interactions and exchange of symbols in different situations.

It is also suggested by many sociologists that as per the symbolic interaction suggest that it is through the interaction with the society that the sense of identity in any individual is dependent. It may be suggested that the self-conception is largely depended on how other individual tend to interact with any specific person and how they label them. The perceptions of other individuals regarding any individual may be stated to have substantial effect on the self-perceptions as well. Thus, the person may act in accordance with the same.

In regards with the mentioned case study, the same may be applicable. It is evident that there are numbers of labels which may be imposed on Ms K. The foremost is the fact that she dies not have contacts with any of her family and has been suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. In addition to this, she is financially unstable and is largely dependent on social care services for residence as well as for a living. Additionally, she had former experiences of neglecting a child. In lights with such conditions, it may be assumed by the society that she might lack the necessary requirements needed to bring up a child in an effective manner. Letting her keeps the child without proper intervention may have high chances of the child getting neglected like the previous one. It may be assumed that there are high chances that the thinking of the other members of society are reflected in her perception as well. She may find it difficult to cope with the pressure. Therefore, it is suggested that the care provider deals with her in a proper manner and provide her with necessary support and suggestion so that she is able to get better grip on her life. It may be assumed that it might not be easy for her to bring up the child due to the social inequality which is deep-seeded. However, with proper assistance from healthcare service providers, it would be easier for her to manage her child. It is needed to be ensured that the labels which might have been internalised by her are moulded in more positive manner in order to provide her with better sense of direction


On the basis of the above mentioned discussion it might be concluded that in order to understand any situation in a proper and comprehensive manner, majority of the social service professionals rely heavily on the sociological perspectives. This can provide any professional a better direction to understand prevalent scenario better and take more suitable decision. While the structural functionalist theory can provide the idea of the society on a macro level, with the help of symbolic interaction, it will be easier to focus on individual interaction. Thus, a thorough analysis can be witnessed that would provide any professional a better comprehension of different situation and most suitable care plan can be developed accordingly.

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