sense and are
determined by a number of factors. The values that we assign ourselves,
others and objects are determined by our feelings, the activity, who
are we doing it with, the setting, our expectations and the
expectations of others in
the activity etc. Wolfensberger describes values as
being of three types; Idealised,
Norm-linked and Operational (high
order, medium order and low order) (Diligio:
Social Role Valorization - Understanding SRV P.36
participating in any activity, our values are
directly related to the activity and others within the activity. We
often see a conflict of these high order values that SRV refers to when
trying to implement them in our normal activities. We may value freedom
and the preservation of human life, but how often do we kill others in
the quest for freedom. One person may value happiness as a high order
value and wealth as a low order value, while another may value wealth
as a high order value and happiness as a low order value. We may
value/devalue the person in their role
(teacher, artist, politician,
policeman etc.) and devalue/value the person as a person.
sense are determined by our
relationships with others within the community ...
... what are the preconceptions that we
have of the other person?
... what are the expectations that we may have of the other person?
... how do we relate to the person?
... how do they relate to us?
... what are the similarities and differences in the relationship?
... how we see our own role.
... how we see the roles of others and how
we relate to those roles.
... how others see our role and how they
relate to the role.
there are a set of values that we use in these associations ...
do we value one thing or another?
what is the value placed on something over something else?
what happens when something happens that does not fit into our set
I would argue that the idea of value is neither positive nor negative,
but rather determined by our own needs at the time. In fact, the idea
of values is such a nebulous concept that it would be better if the
idea does not exist at all. Values are no more than an attempt to
rationalise what we do and the way we do it. If I choose to starve,
rather that steal food, I may be making a decision based on my respect
of someone else's property, or that the food is not fit to eat. You may
say that it is a positively based value. You may also say that it is a
negative based value. The idea of a
positive or negative value is meaningless, and that the value (positive
or negative) we put on the value is determined by our needs at the
time, the family and culture we live in and the society that we
participate in. Gold, for example, is highly valued in society today.
But how much value is it if a person is in the desert with no food or
Some may say that values are based in some form of truth or reality.
But what is truth and what is reality? But wait a minute, you may say,
and then quote some meaningful passage from some great philosopher.
This is true and I do not disagree with your argument, however any
philosophical idea or concept is only an attempt to rationalise a
particular point of view. While this point of view is based in the real
world and the observation of human behaviour within the real world, it
can only describe the truth of the reality as the observer sees it.
Others would say that values (or even a lack of values) are part of a
journey towards discovery and enlightenment. Others would say that
values also come from ignorance and misunderstanding. That values come,
not from our own experiences, but from a perceived or imangined
positive or negative outcome of an activity. Again, I would not
disagree with you. I am not going to critique every philosophical point
of view, there are already volumes written about the advantages or
disadvantages of any theory.
There are a lot of different perspectives on human behaviours and
interactions, and it could be argued that they are all right according
to the particular perspective of the author at the time of writing.
Any way, the point that I am trying to make is that unfortunately,
values are an important part of the way we see ourselves and interact
with each other. This happens at all levels. At the personal level they
allow us to live with each other where everyone has the same attitudes
and expectations in how we treat each other. At the family level these
vales determine how the family succeeds or fails in being a family. At
the community level we generally have different sets of values that are
learned or experienced through participating in the community.
Communities require a different set of values that are often forced on
us by others in the community. The way I treat others in the community
is often quite different to the way I treat others in the family. If I
go outside the normal expectations of what is acceptable in the
community I am disciplined by the community. These community
expectations determine the community values or value systems of the
community. These values (positive or negative) are often defined by the
culture, history or conventions accepted within the community. Each
community has its own value systems, just as each family has its own
value systems. While there may be some common elements in the value
systems of each community or family, they are unique to that community
or family. Just as families and communities use values as a means of
conforming to a standard or social morm, societies also have a system
of values that are used to provide some form of stability, as well
rationalise it's activities within society. These social values are
also determined by the collective members within society.
Values are also an important part of the institutions that define our
families, communities, and the society that we participate in.
Institutions are a part of the social construction of the community,
and the society that we live in. Without the institutions and the
values that are a part of those institutions, communities and societies
can not function properly (see Dysfunctional communities).
I would also argue that ethics, morals and honour are based on a set of
values that defines our relationship with ourselves and the others that
we associate with.
I prefer to think of ethics as a
principle or set of principles of cause and effect. While ethics are
based in social values (the sanctity of human life, the respect of
others property etc), the underlying principle is that by acting in a
way that deprives another person of something that is valued by the
person, I am creating a situation that is distressful to the person,
which deprives the person of fulfilling his or her needs and living a
fulfilled life. Another society may value the collective rather than
the individual members. Property may be seen as being owned by the
group rather that the individual. The principle then is that in order
for the group or community to survive, all property belongs to the
group or community. These ethics can not be rationalised or changed
according to our mood, or the situation in which we find ourselves in.
Who is to say which principle is right or wrong? It is the values that
we live by, through our experiences and understanding of the world
around us that determine which principle is right or wrong. Communities
are generally a mixture of both principles, where we bring something to
the community that is valued by the community. We share skills and
resources and find value in being a part of the community. We also have
our own skills and resources that we use to fulfill our own needs.
I think that morals are a
rationalisation of a set of values that can be reordered or prioritised
according to the situation i.e.: I believe in the sanctity of human
life except where my life is being threatened. Morals are used to set
the agenda of the community or society. Society may say that it is not
ok to do something at a personal level, but it is ok to do it on a
social level. Societies legitimise a behaviour that may be against a
person’s value by rationalising the new behaviour in a way that it is
Honour is about a set of social values,
rather those personal values. We talk about what is the honourable
thing to do in a situation, or, worthy of honour, or dishonourable.
Honour is all about what society would expect a person to do in a
situation rather than what the person would do. The expressions "the
honour of the family", or "in my ancestors honour" all declare
something that is greater than the person, and whatever values the
person has are less important than the honour of the family or society
that the person is a part of. Honour is also a form of submission to
the values of institutions that we live in. We may honour the diseased,
elderly or some senior person as a sign of respect for the person and
what the person represents. Honour is also a role model that is used to
inspire others to achieve greater things that they may not even dream
The above shows thar there are actually two different sets of values
that drive personal endeavours. There is a personal set which we use in
our personal lives, and a social set that allow us to participate in
society. The accepted social values that were used 40 to 50 years ago,
considered inappropriate and devaluing these days and reflect the
changing social landscape that we live in today. The same thing happens
in any social setting, where the use of terminology to describe a
social group becomes outdated. Just as fashion reflects the era in
which it was fashionable. Language also reflects the society in which
it was used. Each new generation creates its own vocabulary. Think
about the words that are used to describe "Disability". What meanings
do we attach to these words today? What words were used 40 to 50 years
ago to describe the same things? How will people in 40 to 50 years time
describe the terminology we use today in describing people with high
support needs? Will "disability" be a dirty word?
I like to think of social values as the glue that holds everything
This glue may be strong (in the sense that everybody shares the same
social values) in some areas and patchy in other areas. It is
the common values of the community that provide the motivation for the
members to see themselves as a part of that community. There is a value
in being a part of the community. While new communities may have
institutions and values to the communities 100 years ago, those values
still provide the roles and institutions of the members of
the community, and the roles and institutions of the community within
The relationships between
Roles, Institutions, Values and members in the community.
Goffman, Narje, Wolfsnsberger and others have written about the plight
with intellectual disabilities. SRV was intended as a vehicle for
social change, not the social change itself
Osburn: An Overview of Social Role Valorization Theory
). We are shown that
people have the same feelings
and needs as ourselves, and therefore have the same rights in
participating in valued relationships and activities i.e.: that they
just like you and me. While theory has been
effective in providing a better quality of life for people with
disability, institutions and
institutionalisation is still here today in all parts of society (and
will always be).
Whether these are used for good or bad depends on the values of the
culture of the society in which they are being used.
Disability service organisations (in fact all organisations) have a set
of principles, charter, purpose, mission or vision (high order values)
that are a part of their constitution/objectives. These provide the
ogranisation with a focus or direction for the members of the
organisation and the community of which it is a part of. How often do
we see these high order values being modified or compromised because of
a lack of skills, resources or internal politics.
When providing the most appropriate
care for people with high support
1) The community is not where the
person is living, but where the
person participates, shares experiences and has valued relationships
2) People with high support needs (severe disability, aged etc.)
will always need support structures as a part of their lives.
3) The amount of participation in a community (living, education,
employment or recreation) is directly related to the skills and
resources of the person, and, the skills and resources of the
community that the person wishes to participate in.
4) Institutions are going to be around in one form or another
whether we like it or not, It is the way that they are used that is the
5) The institutions of a society towards a particular group
determine the way the group participates in society.
6) The institutions of a particular government department,
profession or service define the way the person is supported within
7) Facilities that support people with high support needs do not
need to be the nursing homes or prisons in the
that they are today, but can become warm inviting community places that
offer a range of services to the community, as well as be a part of the
wider community within that society.
8) People with high support needs are a minority group in our
society, and will have the same problems as other minority groups in
being a part of society.