Environmental Strengths: Paradigm and Theory
Elma Ryke, Prof Herman Strydom, Karel Botha.
Understanding the transaction between person and environment is a complex issue that lacks adequate theoretical explanation. In this paper social niche is presented as a promising theoretical concept for framing environment and transaction between person and environment. Adding the strengths perspective to the framing of the transaction is suggested to lead to a series of positive possibilities. This paper furthermore suggests revisions and modulations to the strengths perspective and the social niche construct to get to a clearer understanding of environmental strengths. As a result it is endeavoured to answer the questions: what kind of environment are assumed to be a ‘strong environment’? And, to what degree does the construct social niche provides a related theoretical concept in framing environment and transaction between person and environment in an indigenous manner.
The following conclusions are presented: Both strong and weak are inherent on being human. Society, brought about by human initiative, will also be a reflection of those inherent human characteristics.; To discover strengths are impossible without understanding values.; The value system of a group determines what can be considered strong and weak within a certain context.; Environmental strengths imply much more than power and access to resources.; A more differentiated environmental worldview is necessary in order to acknowledge the diversity of spaces in which humans find and give meaning to their life.; Social niche provide a valuable theoretical conception for framing the transaction between person and environment and for identifying strengths.; Social niche have to be understood within a broader paradigm than the biological, in order to make provision for the higher life qualities of humans, namely the ability to create social and cultural realities.
Elma Ryke (South Africa)
Senior Lecturer in Social Work
Faculty of Health Sciences School of Psychosocial Behavioral Sciences: Social Work
I have been attached to the PU for CHE as a lecturer in social work since 1991. I mainly teach social work management, policy and subject philosophy. I have previously been in practice in the field of dependency care and mental health. I have several publications in various subject periodicals. I have also read papers at several national and international conferences and serve on several professional bodies and committees.
Prof Herman Strydom (South Africa)
Professor in Social Work
Faculty of Health Sciences
North West University
Senior Lecturer in Psychology
School of Psychosocial Behavioral Sciences: Social Work Faculty of Health Sciences
(Virtual Presentation, English)