3 Biographical perspective: using pathways

You will shortly be hearing excerpts from interviews with four men, who were contacted through the Swansea Cyrenians. They are all from very different backgrounds, and talk about their own experiences of homelessness.

The clips are only brief insights into life without a home, but they do demonstrate the importance of a biographical perspective in understanding the unique and diverse needs of individual homeless people.

Looking at situations from a biological perspective is
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

1 The Swansea Cyrenians

In this unit, you will hear from four people who have been helped by a secular voluntary organisation offering support and assistance to the homeless.

The Swansea Cyrenians is one of several organisations that are in touch with homeless people in Swansea. Since 1973, it has been helping some of the most vulnerable people in society, including those who have suffered from homelessness. At the time of the recordings, in 1999, the organisation was running a number of schemes to help
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

Introduction

This unit will help you understand how it is possible to meet the needs of a particular minority community – the Chinese who live in Northern Ireland. The audio clips will give you an opportunity to listen to some first hand experiences and discover some of the problems that this community are facing. You will also hear about the needs of the community in terms of care and support, particularly in terms of meeting the needs of older Chinese inhabitants.

The audio file was recorded in
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

6.3 Responsibility for health and illness

In Activity 6 you explored factors which influence people's experience of health and we noted that inequalities in health are clearly related to the conditions of people's lives, such as their housing, income and education. On the other hand, health education messages have tended to focus on behaviour – what we
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

6.2 Concepts of Illness

Sontag (1979) wrote about the metaphors we use to describe illness. Metaphors are ways of speaking about something as if it were something else which is imaginatively but not literally applicable, for instance calling a new moon a sickle. Sontag was mainly concerned with life-threatening illnesses such as cancer and AIDS, and how the metaphors we use can serve to stigmatise the sufferers, for instance referring to AIDS as a gay plague. But people use metaphors to explain illness to themselves
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

1.1 Introduction

Like many subjects, mental health is complex. This is partly because the language used in discussions about mental health is diverse, can mean different things to different people, and can sometimes be misleading. For example, the term ‘mental health’ is usually used in discussions about just the opposite: ‘mental illness’! There are, however, good reasons for the confusion surrounding its language. One reason is that decisions about what constitutes ‘mental health’, ‘men
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

References

Alcohol Concern (2002) Report on the Mapping of Alcohol Services in England, London, Alcohol Concern.
Arnon, R., Degli Esposti, S. and Zern, M. A. (1995) ‘Molecular biological aspects of alcohol-induced liver disease,’ Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, vol. 19, pp. 247–256.
Buonopane, A. and Petrakis, I. (2005) ‘Pharmacology of alcohol use
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

1.2.2 Psychological and sleep disturbances

The severity of hangover symptoms has also been associated with particular personality traits. For example, some research has indicated that individuals with personality traits that predispose them to a risk of alcoholism, experience more severe hangover symptoms than other people.

Although alcohol acts as a sedative, the sleep it induces can be of poorer quality and shorter duration than normal. Ethanol interferes with the action of key neurotransmitters, in particular GABA and glutama
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

5.4 Involving children

The other key person to be consulted is the child herself. Although Jade's ability or willingness to communicate may vary in different contexts, her understanding will remain and for most children this understanding is well in advance of what they are able to communicate verbally. This has important implications and Jade should therefore be included in conversations, even if she does not appear to be participating.

A greater understanding of ways in which to communicate effectively, eve
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

3.10 References for Extract 2

Bean, P. and Melville, J. (1989) Lost Children of the Empire, London, Unwin Hyman.

Erikson, E. H. (1950) Childhood and Society, New York, Norton Books.

Goffman, E. (1963) Stigma, Harmondsworth, Penguin.

Goffman, E. (1968) Asylums, Harmondsworth, Pelican.

Hall, S. (1990) ‘Cultural identity and diaspora’ in Rutherford, J. (ed.) Identity, Community, Culture and Difference, Lawrence and Wishart, pp. 222–237.

Humphries, S. and
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

3.8 Psychosocial theories of identity

This section does not discuss theories of identity in detail. It is important to note, however, that the theory associated with Erik Erikson, a German psychoanalyst who worked in the USA from the 1930s, has been very influential in social work and continues to be so. Erikson (1950) proposed eight stages of life, from infancy to old age, and each stage had its own particular task in the development of an individual's identity.

Erikson's theory is one of several and should not be regarded
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

3.7.1 Spoiled identities: stigma

In his classic book Stigma (1963) the sociologist Erving Goffman argues that stigma is a relationship of devaluation in which an individual is disqualified from full social acceptance. Society establishes ways of categorising persons and what are felt to be the ‘natural’ or ‘normal’ attributes for each category. Stigma, then, is essentially a pejorative label that sticks, one that is applied to an individual's ‘differentness’, their perceived non-conformity, deviance
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

3.5 Identity and identities

So far in this extract we have considered the importance of people's individual biographies to an understanding of who they are. Such biographies play an important part in making us who we are and we will now explore some of the ideas that have contributed to social workers' understanding of the concept and importance of ‘identity’. These ideas are all examples of the kind of ‘knowledge’ or ‘theory’ that informs social workers' practice.


Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

3.2 Biography as history

So far in this extract you have looked at your life and some of the main influences on you. This process of self reflection, if developed, could provide the basis of your life story. If you decided to ‘tell your story’, how would you structure it? Most probably, as a chronological account of your life, from childhood to adulthood. The chances are that you would do this against the backdrop of the social and political events of the time, and you would illustrate it with historical details.
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

2.4.1 Social work values

You will have come across the Code of Practice for Social Care Workers when you looked at the Framework documents for your country. These Codes are the main documents relating to values in the framework documents. Before looking in detail at the different aspects of the code, it is helpful to look at what ‘values’ are, where they come from, and the context in which social work values have arisen and are being put into practice.


Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

2.3.2 Social sciences

Many of the approaches to social work have their roots in the social sciences; and sociology, psychology and social policy have long historical connections with social work education. Sociology and psychology could be very simply described as being the study of societies and the study of the human mind and behaviour, respectively. Social policy is a newer discipline and involves studying the way in which systems of taxation, benefits and service provision are organised and the ideas that lie
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

Learning outcomes

After studying this unit you should be able to:

  • develop awareness of the underpinning knowledge relating to the key roles of social work;

  • illustrate the application of knowledge, skills, values and processes through case study examples;

  • demonstrate awareness of the skills required to build relationships with service users, colleagues and others through effective communication;

  • introduce the social work service standards and codes of p
    Author(s): The Open University

    License information
    Related content

    Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

References

American College of Sports Medicine (2006) ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription (7th edn), London, Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins.
Pollock, M.L., Gaesser, G.A., Butcher, J.D., Després, J.P., Dishman, R.K., Franklin, B.A. and Ewing Garber, C. (1998) ‘ACSM position stand: The recommended quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness,
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

1.4 Type

The ACSM recommends exercise that employs large muscle groups, is rhythmic or dynamic, can be maintained continuously and is aerobic in nature (ACSM, 2006; Pollock et al., 1998). This type of exercise results in larger increases in VO2max. Activities that would fit into this category include walking, running, swimming and cycling.


Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share