The types of issues and concerns that children, and adolescents, present to social workers are as varied as the people themselves. Understanding how individuals behave in their particular environment will shed some light on their current challenges, but this alone is not enough. Social workers must know how to ask the right questions, as the answers will inform decisions about which resources may be most helpful.

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For this Discussion, think about the connections between social work and human behavior and consider why it is relevant to social work practice.

  • Post an explanation of why studying human behavior and the social environment (HBSE) is relevant for social workers.
  • In your analysis, explain how HBSE is unique from other social and behavioral sciences. 
  •  Please use the Learning Resources to support your answer.

Zastrow, C. H., & Kirst-Ashman, K. K. (2016). Understanding human behavior and the social environment (10th ed.)Boston, MA:  Cengage Learning.

  • Chapter 1 (pp. 161)
  • Bransford, C. L. (2011). Reconciling paternalism and empowerment in clinical practice: An intersubjective perspective. Social Work, 56(1), 33–41.
    • Early, T. J., & GlenMaye, L. F. (2000) Valuing families: Social work practice with families from a strengths perspective.

Social Work, 45

  • (2), 118–130.
Discussion 2: Cultural Beings

Who are you? At first glance, this may seem like a rather simple question. You may identify yourself, as we often do, at the micro level by citing easily identifiable characteristics such as gender, race, or family relationships. While these characteristics describe you, they are only a small part of who you are as a cultural being.  The mezzo and macro levels define your multiple identities from a community and global context. Understanding your identity at the mezzo level provides a deeper understanding of the social construction of culture.  The mezzo level defines your identity through the interpersonal exchanges in the workplace, your school, and in other everyday activities.  Your perceived identity is incorporated into group standards and expectations. Navigating between the micro and mezzo levels can often affirm your own personally constructed identity or it can highlight contradictions between who you believe you are and how others define you. As you work through the Discussion, reflect on your identity from both the micro and mezzo levels. Are there any contradictions between the two levels? Consider how your identity as a cultural being may impact your work as a social worker. For this Discussion, you will explain how the social construction of race, ethnicity, gender, and other multicultural characteristics contribute to your essence as a cultural being.

Post an analysis of what you posted for your video introduction and explain the root of what you described as your culture. The video questions was as follows:

  • Your geographic location- Valdosta GA
  • Thoughts about your expectations and anticipated challenges for this course
  • A description of an aspect of your African American culture that you consider a defining part of your identity.
  • Your reasons for selecting the aspect of your culture in particular. Describe your identity as a cultural being.

Then explain how the social construction of race, ethnicity, gender, and other multicultural characteristics impact your identity as a cultural being.  

Explain how your own definition as a cultural being is or is not consistent with the norms, categories, and constructs prescribed to your culture by social institutions.  

Finally, explain how an understanding of the social construction of culture is applicable to the work you will do in social work practice.


Adams, M., Blumenfeld, W. J., Castaneda, C., Hackman, H. W., Peters, M. L., & Zuniga, X. (Eds.). (2013). Readings for diversity and social justice. (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge Press.

  • Chapter 1, (pp. 6–9)
  • Chapter 2, (pp. 9–15)

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