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   Course Title    Human Behaviour in Social Environment
Lecturer    Gohar Shakhnazaryan
Institution    Yerevan State University
Country    Armenia

I. Aim of the course

This is a knowledge- building course, which is working out within the project of the Establishment the Profession of Social Work in Armenia, based on the agreement between the Department of Sociology of Yerevan State University and the University of Connecticut School of Social Work. The main aim of the course is to enhance the professional knowledge and skills of social work students. Course serves as basis for practice classes and the field practicum.

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

    1. Demonstrate knowledge of core concepts of representative major theories of human behavior in social environments.
    2. Show ability to evaluate these theories critically.
    3. Give examples of applying theory to client situations.
    4. Show familiarity with language of science and ability to apply scientific method as a component of critical thinking about the content of this course.


II. Role of the course in the overall degree curriculum

The course contributes to the preparing of specialists in the field of social work, which is very important for the newly independent countries, likewise Armenia.


III. Methods used

Class sessions will combine lectures, discussions, small group exercises, case studies.

Paper assignment

A 7-10 page paper. This paper must demonstrate mastery of a given topic and its critical analysis.


IV. Course content


1.Person in Environment

What is human? The state of knowledge.

Biopsychosociocultural approach.

1.1. Biological approach. Brain-behavior relationship. Influence of genetics on behavior.

1.2. Social class, age, gender, sexual orientation, physical and mental challenge, rural-suburban-urban differences and the process of socialization.

1.3. Influence of culture, ethnicity and society on the development of personality. Growth of the women role In the contemporary society.

1.4. Growth adaptation. Assimilation and accommodation.


1. Seminars and discussion questions / after each point is made, class is asked to address the following questions- Why is it important for social workers know this? How can this inform the work with clients?

  1. Human nature: Biological and cultural determinants.
  2. The individual as a system .
  3. Constructivism: an approach to clinical practice.


2. Perspectives of human behavior in the social environment

Historical context and present trends. Focus of theory. Major proponents. Factors Influencing theory. Nature of Individual. Structural concepts. Developmental concepts. Nature of problem. Nature of change. Treatment goals. Treatment principles and techniques. Nature of relationship. Applicability.

2.1. Psychodynamic theories {classical psychoanalytic theory, ego psychology, object relations theory}.

2.2. Behavioral and social learning theories.

2.3. Social influence theory.

2.4. Humanistic theory.

2.5. Neuro-linguistic programming.

Seminars and discussion questions

  1. The comparative analysis of different psychological theories
  2. Freoud on female development. Kolberg theory of women’s moral development.


3. Lifespan

Salient features of the developmental phases.

3.1. Pre-natal, birth, infancy. Toddlerhood, childhood. Adolescence. Early, middle and late adulthood.

3.2. Gender differences and gender identification.

3.3. Masculinity, femininity, engendered.

3.4. Forms of deviation in adolescence.

3.5. Crisis of middle age.

3.6. Elder abuse.

Seminars and discussion questions

  1. Developmental tasks and crises.
  2. Racial and ethnic identity .
  3. Hormones, genetics and homosexuality.


4. Gender and conflict

4.1. Major theories of gender differences.

4.2. Role combinations and conflict resolution.

4.3. Ethnocultural differences and gender roles.

4.4. Influence of gender factor on the mechanisms of conflict resolution.

Seminars and discussion questions

  1. Men and women in interpersonal conflict.
  2. Strategies, cooperation and conflict among men and women.


5. Dysfunction. Biomedical view. Ethical issues

Disorders of the Self.

5.1. Primary disorders- psychoses, borderline status, narcissistic behavior disorders, and narcissistic personality disorders.

5.2. Secondary disorders- depression, drop in self-esteem, nervousness, detachment, grief, rage.

5.5 The evaluation of views toward mental health and developmental disabilities.

Seminars and discussion questions

  1. Depression and aging, depression and women.
  2. Gender roles and mental health.


6. Social inequality: Sexism and racism

6.1. Prejudice and discrimination.

6.2. Women and social inequality.

6.3. Institutional sexism.

6.4. Social reform: The feminist movement and social action.

6.5. Social work rights for women.

6.6. Gays, lesbians and social inequality.

6.7. Social inequality and minority group membership.

6.8. Pluralism.

6.9. Efforts to produce social equality for minority groups.

Seminars and discussion questions

  1. Armenian women’s movement.
  2. Feminist position on sexual harassment.
  3. Violence against women. Domestic violence.


7. Groups

What is a group? Types of groups. The structure of group, leadership. Roles and status. Subculture. Sex and behavior. Group norms. Theory for group work practice.


7.1. What is a family? Types of family and it's structure. Functions of family. Roles of mother and father in different cultures and subcultures. Marital influence levels and symptomatology among wives. Mother's participation In childcare. Men and their wives' work.

7.2. Types of family problems {divorce and separation, single parenting, spouse abuse, domestic violence, child maltreatment}. Cultural differences and family problems.

7.3. Social work with families, services to families at risk.

Seminars and discussion questions

  1. Contemporary trends in family life.
  2. The family and ethnocentrism, racism and sexism.
  3. Armenian family: changes in role model.

Last Class. Review, endings, termination, evaluation.


V. Readings

  1. Mandatory
  1. J. Brandel /1997/ Theory and practice in clinical social Work, New York: Free Press.
  2. R. Burkey /1978/ Ethnic and racial groups, the U. S.
  3. M .Bush & Gassner /1988/ A description and clinical research application of the control –mastery theory, Clinical social work journal.
  4. R. Grossman /1993/ Constructivism: An approach to clinical practice, Smith College Studies.
  5. R. T. Hare-Mastin /1989/ The problem of gender in family therapy theory, A framework for family therapy, New York: W. W. Notron.
  6. B. Lackie /1983/ The families of origin of social workers, Clinical social work journal.
  7. H. L. Raush, W. A. Barry /1974/ Communication, conflict and marriage, London.
  8. J. Longres /1995/ Human behavior in the social environment, Itasca, Illinois: FE Peacock.
  9. L. Myers /1995/ Identity development and worldwiew: Toward an optimal conceptualization, , Itasca, Illinois: FE Peacock.
  10. J. Wood /1994/ Gendered lives; communication, gender and culture, the U. S.

B. Suggested reading

  1. B. German & A. Gitterman /1995/ The life model of Social Work Practice, New York: Columbia University Press.
  2. K. Joseph, J. Biclean /1999/ What causes men’s violence against women?, London.
  3. J. Herman /1992/ Trauma and recovery, New York: Basic Books.
  4. D. A. Luepnitz /1988/ The family interpreted: psychoanalysis, feminism and family therapy, New York: Basic Books.
  5.  A. Miller /1981/ The drama of the gifted child, New York: Basic Books.

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