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Social Role Valorisation and the Hawthorne Effect

Social Role Valorisation (SRV)
Deinstitutionalisation
Disability services
Disability and community

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Social Role Valorisation and the community
Explanation of terms



Social Role Valorisation and the Hawthorne Effect


The value of something is determined by the society, community or group and the members of the society, community or group.
Is the value of the person determined by the value of his/her skills and resources ?
Or is the value of a person determined by the relationships and shared experiences.?
Each of the above is valid.

The value of each is determined by the setting, expectations and values of the members of the society, community or group. A person may be positively valued for their skills and resources, but negatively valued for their relationships and shared experiences. Alternatively a person may be negatively valued for their skills and resources, but positively valued for their relationships and shared experiences.

SRV loosely says or implies that the value of the person is determined by the value of his/her personal and social characteristics and competencies (roles), and that by enhancing these roles (through the development of personal and social characteristics and competencies), a person's role is enhanced.

I remember watching a video about a study done in the Hawthorne Works of the General Electric Company in Chicago (The Hawthorne Effect). In one test, the workers were asked for their input in how things could be made better to improve their working conditions. The response was that the lighting could be brighter. So the management made the lighting a bit brighter and the work improved in quality and quantity. The management then asked if workers how they felt about the lighting and asked them if they would like it brighter and the response was: yes. The management then did nothing, but gave the impression that they were interested in the welfare of the workers. The outcome was that the quality and quantity improved even though nothing had happened.

There has been much debate over the outcomes and value of the study, however whatever the criticisms are, the fact that the output improved through having more participation in the decision making process (real or imagined) is still valid. The project also showed that while the conditions may not have improved, the fact that an observer was present and interested in their performance might have been enough to improve productivity.
The focus of SRV is Social Image Enhancement and Competency Enhancement, where disadvantaged people are able to be accepted as valued members of society and live a more normal life. The focus of the Hawthorne Effect was to engage the workers (real or imaginary) in the decision making process.

It could be argued that SRV contains elements of the Hawthorne Effect:
... The institutions of the clients (in the institution) and workers (in the factory) are negatively valued
... The settings, behaviours, expectations, values and roles of the clients/workers change
... The clients/workers are enabled through these strategies in becoming more productive members of their community
... Both strategies are designed to increase clients/workers value, in their community
 
Whether the outcomes of these approaches are positively valued really depends on the values of the stakeholders. In a factory, for example, the outcomes may be positively valued by the management, where productivity has increased, and the workers, where they believe that they have a more valued role in the factory. In a facility that supports people with high support needs, outcomes are measured by a tool (PASSING,
Wolfensberger, W. & Thomas, S. (1983)) to gauge the effectiveness (value) of SRV. Whether the value of the outcomes of PASSING are consistent with the goals of the service and SRV is dependent on a number of factors (1).

As far as I am aware there has been no study on using the principles of SRV and the PASSING instruments in a normal setting, where the principles of SRV are applied to workers in a factory or students in a classroom. You may say "What’s the point of that?" and my reply would be "If the principles of SRV are effective strategies in providing Social Image Enhancement and Competency Enhancement for people with disability, why can't they be effective strategies in the work place, the classroom or any setting where people may be devalued or their self image is poor. By enhancing Social Images and Personal Competencies of the members of a community (accommodation, workplace, school etc) I would assume that the members would benefit. However this is all theory until someone decides it is a worthwhile project.

Any way, the point I am trying to make is that it could be argued that: the goal of SRV is to enhance Social Images and Personal Competencies, where devalued people are able to lead a more meaningful and productive life (receive the good things) where they have the skills and resources and valued roles in being a part of society. The implication is that the person is valued as a friend, worker, painter, writer etc, and through this process the person may by valued as a person. A person with a severe disability that cannot have a role assigned to them, or be placed in an existing role, still has the opportunity to be treated and valued the same as you or me.

In both paradigms, it is the outcomes of the approach within the accommodation, workplace, school etc that are positively valued by the people that are participating in the activity.






When providing the most appropriate care for people with high support needs ...
1) The community is not where the person is living, but where the person participates, shares experiences and has valued relationships with others.
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 problem.
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, organisation, profession or service define the way the person is supported within that society.
7) Facilities that support people with high support needs do not need to be the nursing homes or prisons in the sense 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.


(1) : "The literature on the relationship between size of residence and quality suggests that size is not a sufficient condition in itself and other variables must also be considered including staffing characteristics and patterns, and service processes such as supports for residents' development. PASSING takes these into account. A more extensive paper providing more detailed analysis on these issues and this evaluation is being prepared for publication by the author." (Cocks, E.  1998, Evaluating the Quality of Residential Services for People with Disabilities Using Program Analysis of Service Systems' Implementation of Normalization Goals (PASSING). (http://www.dinf.ne.jp/doc/english/asia/resource/z00ap/002/s00ap00207.html)"

01/10/2010
Peter Anderson
http://www.psawa.com